There was no big knock from D'Arcy Short for Hobart Hurricanes, but he more than made up for it with the ball, obliterating Sydney Thunder.
Jofra Archer was troubled by his elbow in the warm-up for the fourth Test, so Chris Woakes returns as Beuran Hendricks makes his Test bow.
New Zealand belatedly took care of India's top order but could not contain Shreyas Iyer as they slipped to an opening Twenty20I defeat.
While speculation continues over his future as South Africa captain, Faf du Plessis insists his full focus is on the fourth Test.
Should England overcome South Africa in the final Test, it would mark Joe Root's proudest achievement as captain.
Three early wickets for Suranga Lakmal set the tone as Zimbabwe suffered a 10-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka.
Batsman Temba Bavuma was dropped from the South Africa squad after the second Test, but he comes in for Zubayr Hamza in Johannesburg.
Steve Smith made just nine in his first Big Bash League match for six years but Sydney Sixers eased to victory at The Gabba.
Graeme Smith wants to understand how Faf du Plessis sees his future amid doubts over how long he plans to keep playing for South Africa.