Australia have suffered another spin-induced Twenty20 loss, with Aaron Finch calling on his side to curb their ego ahead of the upcoming World Cup.
Finch returned with a bang in his first match since a hamstring strain in January, top-scoring with 40 off 18 balls to rocket Australia to 1-69 after six overs in Durban.
The introduction of South Africa legspinner Imran Tahir on a spin-friendly pitch changed the course of the game.
A collapse of 5-35 meant the tourists only posted a total of 9-157.
The Proteas crashed to 6-95 in response but an unbeaten 53 from David Miller got them across the line with three wickets in hand and four balls remaining.
Miller was named man of the match but Tahir snagged three wickets, dismissing Finch with his first delivery.
“There were some times when our ego probably took over a little bit,” Finch said.
“A lot to learn with the bat.
“When you’re playing against a quality spinner on a wicket that’s assisting him, we probably had to play a little bit smarter. Myself included.”
Finch bludgeoned JP Duminy’s first three balls into the crowd, taking 24 runs from the offspinner’s only over.
But the fit-again opener cracked a full toss from Tahir straight to Kagiso Rabada in the deep.
Australia’s T20 World Cup campaign starts in India on March 18 and Finch conceded the way his side plays spin will go a long way to deciding if they win the tournament.
“Absolutely. It’s no secret that teams are targeting us with spin and rightfully so,” Finch said.
“We haven’t played it all that well over the last little while in the shortest format.
“Imran took 3-21 and was all over us.
“It’s something where we are going to have to look to change our plans.”
The three-match T20 series continues in Johannesburg at 11.30pm (AEDT) on Sunday.
Australia, having been trumped by India’s spinners at home earlier this year, risk suffering a sixth straight T20 loss.
Defeat at the Wanderers will make it Australia’s worst ever T20 losing streak.
“We shouldn’t have won from the position they got us in,” Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis said.
“Imran is bowling so well … we pride ourselves on being even smarter when guys come at us.”
The match was played on what Finch termed a “subcontinent-type surface”.
“It was quite dry,” he said.
“It played exactly how we thought it was going to, unfortunately we didn’t get enough runs.
“It was a good opportunity to play against some quality spin bowling, some quality medium-pace bowling through the middle overs and that’s where they totally outplayed us.”
Legspinner Adam Zampa logged figures of 0-26 on T20 debut, while offspinning allrounder Glenn Maxwell’s only over cost 16 runs.
“He (Maxwell) copped a bit of stick there but that happens when you’re bowling to good players with only two men out. It’s a hard gig,” Finch said.
“You’d have to look at it (playing another spinner by adding Ashton Agar to the XI).”