DURBAN, South Africa, March 12 AAP - Brad Hodge starred in the shortest Twenty20 match ever played by Australia, as the tourists posted a thrilling five-wicket victory over South Africa in Durban.
Play was due to start at 3am on Thursday, only for rain to delay the action for two and a half hours and reduce the game to seven overs a side.
Hodge showed exactly why he was recalled for the T20 World Cup at age 39, belting two sixes in the final over as Australia chased down their target of 81 runs with two balls remaining.
The tourists brought up the winning runs when Wayne Parnell sent down a wide after Hodge's consecutive sixes, finishing 5-82 after they scampered through for a run.
David Warner had put Australia on track for victory with a dashing knock of 40 from 16 balls, but the run-rate slowed with the loss of regular wickets.
Australia needed 28 runs from the final two overs, with Hodge (21 not out) and Brad Haddin (four not out) up to the task.
Warner's career-best form made a seamless transition from cricket's longest format to its shortest as he put one ball from debutant Beuran Hendricks out of the park.
In positive signs for Australia leading into the T20 World Cup, Warner offered only the one life on 36 in the third over when Parnell was unable to complete a juggled attempt on the rope.
The Proteas finished 1-80 from their seven overs, Faf Du Plessis (27no) and Quinton de Kock (41no) sharing an unbeaten 74-run stand.
George Bailey opted to field first in the shortened match that featured one-over spells from the visitors' bowlers with the exception of Nathan Coulter-Nile (1-17 from two overs) and Mitchell Starc (0-24 from two overs).
For most of the night it looked unlikely the game would go ahead.
Ground staff worked overtime and liberally dumped large clumps of sawdust on the sodden surface.
Both skippers had long discussions with the umpires and match referee Chris Broad after the showers cleared, no doubt concerned about the risk of injury.