JOHANNESBURG, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Australia’s Ashton Agar said he had felt horrible going into Friday’s Twenty20 international against South Africa at The Wanderers but the left-arm spinner came out of the game with the greatest moment of his cricketing life.
Agar took a hat-trick in career-best figures of 5-24 as Australia romped to a 107-run win, inflicting the heaviest ever defeat on hapless South Africa in the shortest format of the game as the hosts were bowled out for their lowest score of 89.
Seamers Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins did some early damage as the home side chased a victory target of 197, before Agar’s hat-trick in his first over all but sealed the win for the tourists.
“It was really exciting and obviously the highlight of my cricketing life,” man of the match Agar said at the post-match presentation.
“But my job is made a lot easier when you have Mitch Starc, Pat Cummins, Richo (Kane Richardson) and Zamps (Adam Zampa) doing the job before me.”
Agar’s previous best figures in Twenty20 Internationals were 3-27, but he matched that wicket haul inside his first six deliveries on Friday.
“It’s funny, I was feeling horrible leading into the game,” he said. “But I just had that belief at the top of the mark to let it all out and give it my best go.
“Obviously when the wicket turns, you get a bit of assistance and your job is made a bit easier.”
Agar had Faf du Plessis caught on the boundary before he trapped Andile Phehlukwayo leg before wicket.
Captain Aaron Finch then took a superb catch at slip to dismiss Dale Steyn for Agar to become the 12th player to bag a hat-trick in Twenty20 Internationals.
“It was an unbelievable catch, I think he (Finch) enjoyed it as well. He was halfway around the ground when I caught up with him,” Agar said.
Remarkably, the spinner almost bagged a second hat-trick in the innings when he removed debutant Pite van Biljon and Lungi Ngidi in successive balls, and then narrowly missed the stumps of new batsman Tabraiz Shamsi.
“There was about a 10% chance of me catching that,” Finch said of the Steyn dismissal. “He (Agar) bowled beautifully today and deserved it.”
The teams move to Port Elizabeth for the second match in the three-game series on Sunday, before the finale in Cape Town on Wednesday. (Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Ken Ferris)