South Africa squandered the chance to go 2-0 up in the series as Australia won the second ODI in Hobart by five runs.
Chasing 250 for victory, the Proteas would have backed themselves for the win but their inability to lift their run rate proved to be their undoing.
Mark Boucher tried in vain to see South Africa home, but needing 17 off the final over the Proteas fell just short.
Jacques Kallis played well for his 72, but both he and AB de Villiers could be criticised for failing to push on when South Africa required it, and in the end, left the likes of Boucher and Albie Morkel with too much to do.
Earlier in the day, South Africa pegged the Aussies back when youngster David Warner was caught behind off the bowling of Dale Steyn, but skipper Ricky Ponting and Shaun Marsh put on 135 for the second wicket taking Australia past the 150-mark.
Having reached this milestone with plenty of wickets in hand, 300 looked on the cards, but some disciplined bowling from the Proteas restricted the Australians to 249-9 off their 50 overs. Nevertheless, the total proved to be enough as Australia levelled the series at 1-1 with three to play.
Despite the Proteas’ disappointment, the match was once again a wonderful showcase for 50-over cricket with the game keeping fans on the edge of their seats right until the last over.
Australia 249-9 (50 overs)
Shaun Marsh 78, Ricky Ponting 64, Makhaya Ntini 3-39.
South Africa 244-6 (50 overs)
Jacques Kallis 72, AB de Villiers 44, Ben Hilfenhaus 2-60.
Australia won by five runs.
For a full scorecard click here.