Cameron White steered the Australians home with an unbeaten 41 off 31 balls to pip the Proteas in a tense decider at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium.
The Australians had restricted the South Africans to 145 for six off their 20 overs after winning the toss, but needed 19.5 overs to get the winning run off White.
Australia took the series 2-1 after losing the opening game in Adelaide by seven wickets then claiming the next in Melbourne by seven wickets and winning in Sydney.
White’s composed knock got the Australians over the line after South Africa’s five bowlers had threatened to pull off a gritty victory as wickets tumbled.
“Credit to our bowlers again, chasing 140-odd on that wicket you would be pretty comfortable most times so I’m just glad we got over the line at the end,” said man-of-the-match White.
“I thought we bowled well at the back end of their innings and it’s nice to be making runs so that’s my job and keep doing it hopefully.”
Giant all-rounder David Wiese captured three for 21 and spinner Robin Peterson took three for 28 to lead the South African attack.
The Australians began briskly, with skipper Aaron Finch clubbing two sixes in his 33 off 25 balls and Glenn Maxwell hitting a typical improvised 23 off 15 balls.
But the wickets kept falling and giving the South Africans a sniff of victory.
The Australians needed 41 runs off the last 36 balls as White masterfully shepherded the strike to keep the scoring rate ticking over.
Proteas skipper J.P. Duminy declined to bowl his off-spinners and relied on his contingent of five main bowlers, but paceman Wayne Parnell proved particularly expensive and went wicketless for 43 runs from his four overs.
Kyle Abbott claimed the wicket of Sean Abbott leg before wicket with the third-last ball and incoming batsman Cameron Boyce almost ran out White when he scampered for a single off his first ball.
Peterson’s throw from backward square leg narrowly missed the stumps with White well out of his ground.
White then chopped away Abbott’s next delivery to go through for the winning run.
Australia’s bowlers earlier fought back to restrict South Africa to 145 for six after winning the toss and sending the Proteas into bat.
South Africa were well placed at 75 without loss after 8.3 overs with openers Reeza Hendricks (49 off 48) and Quinton de Kock (48 off 27 balls) breezing along.
However, Australia clawed their way back. James Faulkner (3-28) was effective in the closing overs, smashing through the South African middle order.
Faulkner subsequently was named man of the series.
David Miller remained unbeaten on 34 off 26 balls and was the only Proteas batsman to make an impact in the closing overs. -AFP