A 79-run partnership between Steve Smith and David Warner guided Australia to a comfortable six-wicket win at Newlands to clinch the series 2-1.
In the end South Africa’s total of 178 just wasn’t enough as Australia cruised to 181-4 with four balls to spare.
While the hosts wanted to win the series, they shouldn’t be too disappointed because they didn’t play their best team and tried a few things as their preparation for the World T20 came to an end.
Smith (44 off 26) and Warner (33 from 27) ensured Australia did better in the middle overs than the Proteas, but they were also aided by an aggressive opening stand of 76 between Usman Khawaja (33 off 25) and Shane Watson (42 off 27).
The latter was dropped twice during his innings, the first time by David Miller on the long-on boundary with his score on 30 and the second time by Faf du Plessis on 40, who should have left the catch for Miller who was running in from the boundary.
Du Plessis, however, made up for it by holding on to an almost identical effort the next ball. Both dropped catches came off Imran Tahir, who went for 16 runs in his first over but took two wickets in his second.
Australia needed 47 off the last six overs and a run-a-ball from the last two overs and Smith would have been there at the end had it not been for the top edge he got trying to scoop a full-toss through the leg side.
Hashim Amla scored his highest T20 score and second fifty in a row as South Africa reached 178-4 batting first.
It was a majestic innings by the opener who came back into the side for AB de Villiers, who is reportedly struggling with a shoulder injury.
Amla (97 off 62 balls) made the most of his opportunity, just as he did against England at the Wanderers when Quinton de Kock was rested. Amla scored an unbeaten 69 that day but bettered it this time with a free-flowing innings which he made look utterly effortless at times.
It now seems an impossible prospect to drop for the World T20 and the selectors have some thinking to do before South Africa’s first game on the 18th of March against England.
The total at Newlands felt a bit below par considering the start Amla and De Kock (25 off 13 balls) made. South Africa raced to 68-1 during the six overs of the powerplay and a score of 180 or more looked possible.
Du Plessis didn’t last long after mistiming a slower ball from Watson before Rilee Rossouw was sent in ahead of JP Duminy at No 4. The scoring gradually slowed down in the middle overs as Rossouw struggled to get going, although he did manage to rotate the strike and ran well between the wickets.
His departure on 16 from 21 balls brought Miller to the crease which lifted the tempo and intensity as he smashed 30 from 16 as South Africa tried to reach that 180-mark.
Still, it wasn’t enough as the Proteas only managed 63 runs between the sixth and 16th over which ultimately cost them a more imposing total.