Melbourne:South Africa rode on twin half centuries by Neil McKenzie and JP Duminy and some late fireworks by Albie Morkel to edge past Australia by three wickets in the opening one-dayer of the five match cricket series on Friday.
Chasing 272 for a win, the Proteas survived a middle-order collapse to romp home with three deliveries to spare in a thrilling floodlit contest.
J P Duminy (71) and Neil McKenzie set the foundation for the visiting side before Morkel played a brilliant 40-run cameo, also sharing a 50-run eighth-wicket stand with Johan Botha (11) to seal the win for the South Africans.
Opting to bat first after winning the toss, the Australians were left to rue a slow batting start and shoddy bowling at the death in the see-saw contest.
Shaun Marsh top-scored for the hosts with a 97-ball 79.
David Hussey's 50-ball 52 and under-fire skipper Ricky Ponting's 46 were the only other notable contributions in the Aussie total after a slow start left them 146 for three in 31 overs.
He didn't take any wicket but Jacques Kallis' stifling 10-over spell conceding just 35 runs coupled with an equally economical 1/49 by Dale Steyn never allowed the Aussie batsmen to flourish.
Among the wicket-takers, Botha and Morne and Albie Morkel shared two scalps apiece to restrict Australia to 271 for eight in their 50 overs.