A well-paced innings from Cameron White has steered Australia to a dramatic series-clinching two-wicket Twenty20 win over South Africa at ANZ Stadium.
Chasing South Africa’s score of 6-145, Australia reached their target with just two balls to spare on Sunday.
The result clinched a 2-1 series win for Australia, who lost the first match in Adelaide last Wednesday and then squared the series in Melbourne on Friday.
Both sides stumbled after good starts.
South Africa were well placed at 0-75 after 8.3 overs with openers Reeza Hendricks (49 off 48) and Quinton de Cock (48 off 27 balls) going well.
Australian openers Aaron Finch (33 off 25) and Ben Dunk (14 off 8) put on 40 off 4.4 overs, but were also guilty of getting out just as they looked to be asserting themselves.
The home team lost 4-22 to slump to 4-62 in the ninth over, after Nic Maddinson (4)and Shane Watson (5) fell in successive overs.
White (41 not out off 31 balls) and fellow Victorian Glenn Maxwell (23 off 15) looked to be building a potential match-winning partnership, until the latter was caught at deep midwicket, leaving the home team needing 46 off the last 43 balls.
James Faulkner (9), Pat Cummins (3), and Sean Abbott (5) perished in the 16th and 18th and 20th overs respectively , and White was almost run out in the final over.
Finch had earlier thrashed sixes over long on and long off in Wayne Parnell’s first over, the fourth of the innings, which yielded 15 runs.
The Australian captain was caught at backward square leg off David Wiese (3-21) in the next over.
Dunk, who faced just three balls in the first five overs, hit JP Duminy over long off for six.
The South African captain got his revenge the next ball, taking a sharp return catch.
In South Africa’s innings James Faulkner (3-28) was particularly effective in the closing overs, smashing through the middle order.
Paceman Pat Cummins (1-23) and spinner Glenn Maxwell (0-24) were also instrumental in dragging Australia back into the contest.
David Miller (34 not out off 26) was the only visiting batsman to make an impact in the closing overs.
Then two nations now meet in a five-match one-day series starting in Perth on Friday.
“To play a pretty messy game and get across the line, I think showed real character in the group,” Finch said.
White, who was switched from the top of the order after the first game of the series, continued the good form which recently won him a second straight domestic one-day player of the series award.
“It was good to finish not out and get the win and I feel as though I’ve been in good form for a period of time now,” White said.
“It was nice to take advantage of that, but i thought the bowling has been a real strength for us throughout the series.”
Duminy felt after their good start South Africa could have got to around the 160 mark.
“I think to defend as well as we have done in that game, I was pretty happy with that bowling performance,” Duminy said.
“Here and there, we let it leak a little bit, but all in all I was pretty happy with the way we fought. We never gave up.”