Port Elizabeth:South Africa defeated Australia in the fourth One-Day International to take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series on Monday on the back of a match winning performance from spinners Roelof van der Merwe and Johan Botha.
Australia's openers had got off to a flying start, putting on 129 for the first wicket as they attempted to chase down South Africa's imposing total of 317-6. But South Africa's spinners turned the match in the home side's favor and then fast bowler Dale Steyn finished off the tail, claiming 4-44.
The Proteas eventually dismissed Australia for 256 with more than four overs to spare, to win by 61 runs. The final match takes place in Johannesburg on Friday.
Australia started off in pursuit of their target with gusto, openers Brad Haddin (78) and Michael Clarke (50) adding 129 for the first wicket in 20.4 overs. First to go was Haddin, after hitting seven fours and four sixes in his 61-ball innings.
The successful bowler was Botha, who, although he took only 1-48, again slowed the Australian innings, in tandem with Van der Merwe. Botha was hit for 14 in his first over, and off his seventh ball he conceded a six to Haddin, with long-on fielder Wayne Parnell getting a hand to the ball before it hit the ropes. Three balls later Haddin hit to the same area, but this time was caught by Parnell.
Van der Merwe, who took 3-37 in the previous match in Cape Town, finished with 3-46 on Monday. His first victim was Clarke, bowled after facing 68 balls, and hitting four fours.
The left-arm spinner then had Callum Ferguson stumped for 3, and trapped Michael Hussey in front for 2, to reduce Australia to 151-4 in the 28th over.
Captain Ricky Ponting (53) was then involved in partnerships of 37 and 38 with David Hussey (20) and James Hopes (31), but Steyn broke both stands. First he ran towards midwicket to catch Hussey off his own bowling, then, after being hit for four fours by Ponting, had the Aussie captain well caught at midwicket by Albie Morkel.
Australia's lower order put up little resistance as Steyn bowled Nathan Hauritz (3) and Shane Harwood (0). Others among the wickets were Wayne Parnell (1-64) and Morkel (1-25)
In South Africa's innings, Herschelle Gibbs hit his 21st century in a one-day international, hitting nine boundaries and two sixes in his 110. He and A.B. de Villiers set up the Proteas' big total with a third-wicket partnership of 136, scoring at nearly seven an over at St George's Park.
De Villiers smashed 84 off 74 balls with six fours and three sixes, two of which came off successive balls from offspinner Hauritz to reach his half-century. De Villiers had a let-off when he was dropped on 57 by Ferguson in the deep.
The two were brought together after Graeme Smith was caught behind for 20 off a bottom edge. Jacques Kallis tried a cut shot on 17 but was caught on the third man boundary by Ferguson off debutant seamer Harwood.
Gibbs was the third man out, driving left-arm seamer Nathan Bracken straight to Clarke at deep mid-on. South Africa promoted big-hitter Morkel to No.5 in the order, but he was bowled for 4 early on in a batting power-play by Mitchell Johnson. De Villiers also fell to Johnson in the power-play, top-edging to Ferguson at mid-on.
Mark Boucher and J.P. Duminy added 65 in 7.2 overs for the sixth wicket.
Duminy sped to 40 off 24 balls with four boundaries, but was caught at square-leg by a diving Michael Hussey off the last ball of the innings. This gave Harwood figures of 2-57, the best of the innings. Johnson finished with 2-59.
Australia was below-par in the field, dropping three catches.