SYDNEY — Cameron White made an unbeaten 41 to steer Australia to a two-wicket win over South Africa with a ball to spare in the third Twenty20 cricket international on Sunday and to a 2-1 win in the three-match series.
Australia stumbled to 62-4 after 8.1 overs, chasing South Africa's inadequate total of 145-6, before White struck his 41 runs from 31 balls with four fours and a six to decide the match and series.
He took a single from the fifth ball of a tense final over, superbly bowled by Kyle Abbott, to carry Australia past South Africa's tally in a breathless finish. White won the man of the match award.
Australia had needed 10 runs from the last two overs with three wickets in hand and three runs from the final over in the gripping conclusion to a see-sawing series.
South Africa won the first match at Adelaide by seven wickets but Australia set up Sunday's match as the series decider when it won the second match at Melbourne by the same margin.
White took a single from the first ball of the final over, exposing No. 9 Sean Abbott to the wiles of his namesake Kyle Abbott who bowled his first three overs at a cost of only 17 runs. Proteas captain J.P. Duminy used only five bowlers, including Wayne Parnell who gave up 43 runs from his four overs.
Sean Abbott played and missed at the second delivery of the last over and was then trapped lbw by the third — Abbott lbw to Abbott — to leave White to negotiate an unexpectedly tense finish.
No. 10 Cameron Boyle managed to spar the fourth delivery to point and White just reclaimed the strike as Robin Peterson's throw grazed the stumps at the striker's ends.
White then struck the fifth ball of the over — the penulimate ball of the match — firmly into the on side for the single that clinched Australia's victory.
"It got a bit twitchy there didn't it?" White said. "I think it was probably set up by the bowlers again.
"Chasing 140 on that wicket you'd be pretty comfortable most times but I'm just glad we got over the line at the end."
Earlier, South Africa seemed headed for a commanding total after being sent into bat when Quintin de Kock (48) and Reeza Hendricks (49) put on 75 for the first wicket in 8.4 overs. The Proteas were 84-1 at the midpoint of their innings and still soundly placed at 116-2 entering their last five overs.
But James Faulkner took 3-28 to stifle the run flow and South Africa lost four wickets for 30 runs as the promise of their innings deflated.
"I thought we bowled really well at the back end of our bowling innings," White said. "The guys used the conditions well, bowled into the wicket a lot and restricted them after a good start.
"I thought the wicket was pretty good throughout our batting innings."
Captain Aaron Finch gave Australia a rapid start to their reply, taking 33 runs from 25 balls with two fours and two sixes — both struck from the same over from Parnell.
But when he was the first man out, Australia was left to search for another batsman to pace the innings.
David Wiese took 3-21 from his four overs and Peterson matched Faulkner's figures of 3-28, dismissing Ben Dunk (14), Shane Watson (5) and Maxwell to give South Africa a faint hope of a winning against the odds.
But Maxwell made a vital 23 from 15 balls and put on 38 for the fifth wicket with White who then showed his deep experience and composure to guide Australia home with the uncertain support of the tail.
The teams meet in the first match of a five-match one-day international series at Perth on Friday.