Commonwealth Bank Series
Australia 271-8 (S E Marsh 79, D J Hussey 52) v South Africa 272-7 (J P Duminy 71, N D McKenzie 63)
South Africa beat Australia by 3 wkts
Albie Morkel hit a match-winning 40 off just 18 balls as South Africa beat Australia in a thrilling finish to the first one-day international in Melbourne.
The hosts set up a difficult chase of 272 at the MCG with Shaun Marsh and David Hussey hitting half centuries, and the tourists appeared to have blown their chances with the loss of four wickets for eight runs.
But Morkel joined captain Johan Botha (12 not out) and the pair knocked off 51 in the final five overs, the former clubbing four boundaries and a six to pull off a shock win.
The South African reply had been going smoothly with Jacques Kallis (41) adding 54 for the third wicket with JP Duminy, while the latter put on 123 with Neil McKenzie after Kallis was bowled by Michael Clarke.
But Duminy's demise sparked the collapse when he tried to work Nathan Bracken into the leg side, merely succeeding in chipping the ball straight to Cameron White at midwicket having made 71 without a single boundary.
The incoming Mark Boucher was out of luck, receiving a snorter first ball from Shaun Tait that castled the wicket-keeper, and in Bracken's next over debutant Vaughn van Jaarsveld was run out by Ricky Ponting attempting an ambitious single.
And with just eight runs added in 13 balls South Africa's chances took another big nosedive when McKenzie holed out to Ponting having made 63 - the Australia skipper grabbing the ball at the second attempt.
Ponting was forced to employ the final five overs of powerplay by the batting side leaving plenty of gaps in the field, and Morkel imediately took advantage to hit Ben Hilfenhaus for two boundaries.
When 13 was taken off Bracken's penultimate over - Morkel impeccably driving the left-armer high into the stands - the Proteas required 25 off the final three overs.
Morkel then took the tourists to within sight of victory with a trio of boundaries off the unfortunate Hilfenhaus - two on the leg side followed by a delicate glance past short third man - while a fielding fluff from Bracken gave away an extra couple of runs off the final ball of the over.
The left-armer made amends in the 49th over with Botha on strike, conceding just two singles before Morkel clubbed three runs off the last ball to retain strike, leaving the South Africans just two short of victory.
Hilfenhaus was on a hiding to nothing and it was left to captain Botha to lead his side to victory, driving to mid-on where David Hussey fumbled under pressure.
Ponting had won the toss and opted to bat in ideal conditions, adding 94 with Marsh after opener Michael Hussey had edged Dale Steyn to Boucher.
Marsh controlled the innings with a measured 79 from 97 balls while the Proteas grassed several chances including two blunders from rookie Van Jaarsveld.
Ponting fell four short of a half century when Boucher took a smart catch off Botha, and Clarke added 19 before Albie Morkel took the first of two wickets, Hashim Amla taking the catch.
David Hussey was dropped on 10 and made the opposition pay, scoring 52 from 50 balls after seeing Marsh edge Morne Morkel behind.
He added a brisk 49 with Cameron White (21) and although they fell within six balls of each other Australia were still able to take 48 off the last five overs, with Brad Haddin (19) and Bracken (12) managing to find the rope as they finished on 271-8.
And they made a bright start as South Africa began their reply, Amla finding Tait too good while Herschelle Gibbs (22) played on to Hilfenhaus after looking set.
But after ripping through the middle order the hosts could not contain Morkel, who lived up to his hard-hitting reputation to give the tourists the upper hand in the five-match series.