SYDNEY, Nov 23 (AFP): James Faulkner hit the winning boundary with five balls to spare to give Australia a thrilling two-wicket victory over South Africa today and push them to the top of the ICC one-day rankings.
The Australians were cruising towards a rain-reduced victory target of 275 in Sydney but then lost four wickets for three runs to give the Proteas a late chance of victory.
But Faulkner (six not out) got Australia over the line with a sweep for four off spinner Robin Peterson, who had bowled the Proteas into contention with four wickets.
Australia secured a 4-1 series win and nudged ahead of India to top the one-day rankings, less than three months before the start of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock was named man-of-the-match in a losing side for his 107 off 123 balls in South Africa�s innings after they had won the toss.
The Australians seemed in control of the run chase with Aaron Finch scoring 76 (67 balls), Shane Watson 82 (93 balls) and man of the series Steve Smith 67 (74 balls).
But some reckless batting coupled with Peterson�s mesmerising spin brought South Africa back into contention after the loss of Glenn Maxwell, Smith, skipper George Bailey, Matt Wade and Pat Cummins.
Faulkner got the Australians home in the final over.
�We made it a bit difficult for ourselves in the end and Jimmy (Faulkner) again got us home so it�s nice to win the series 4-1,� Smith said.
South Africa: Amla c Wade b Maxwell 18, Q de Kock c Wade b Cummins 107, Rossouw c Bailey b Cummins 51, F du Plessis c Bailey b Cummins 2, Miller c Cummins b Smith 5, F Behardien c Smith b Faulkner 63, Parnell not out 18,, McLaren not out 1. Extras: (lb-5, w-9, nb-1) 15. Total: (6 wickets; 50 overs) 280. Fall of wickets: 1-54, 2-161, 3-164, 4-187, 5-206, 6-279. Bowling: Hazlewood 9-1-52-0, Starc 10-1-60-0, Cummins 9-0-54-3, Faulkner 8-0-51-1, Maxwell 8-0-30-1, Watson 1-0-11-0, Smith 5-1-17-1.
Australia: D Warner c Peterson b Parnell 21, A Finch c Rossouw b Peterson 76, S Watson c Rossouw b Morkel 82, S Smith c Rossouw b Peterson 67, G Maxwell c Behardien b Morkel 7, G Bailey c Rossouw b Abbott 4, M Wade b Peterson 3, J Faulkner not out 6, P Cummins b Peterson 0, M Starc not out 1. Extras: (W-4, NB-4) 8. Total: (For 8 wkts; 47.1 overs) 275. Fall of wickets: 1-37, 2-137, 3-218, 4-246, 5-264, 6-264, 7-267, 8-267. Bowling: Morkel 10-0-69-2, Abbott 10-0-59-1, Parnell 9-0-54-1, McLaren 7-0-41-0, Peterson 6.1-1-32-4, Behardien 5-0-20-0.