Adelaide: The Australian cricket team's hype around Australia Day came to nought on Monday with South Africa registering an eight wicket victory against them in the fourth one-day international played here.
South Africa spearheaded themselves to a series victory (three games to one), by scoring the required 223 runs, thanks to telling knocks of 82 not out and 80 not out by batsmen A. B. de Villiers and Hashim Amla. Earlier, Australia had scored 222. Skipper Ricky Ponting top scored for the hosts with 63. South African fast bowler Dale Steyn snared three wickets for 49 runs.
The tourists arrived last month hoping for some success against the world champions in the Test and one-day formats, but they will leave with commanding victories in each arena after wrapping up this five-match contest before Friday''s final fixture in Perth.
While South Africa's order has gained confidence, from Herschelle Gibbs at the top to Albie Morkel and Johan Botha towards the bottom, the Australians are in worse shape than when they began.
Throughout the series their batting has struggled to build on strong platforms and they wasted another chance on Monday as they dropped from the comfort of 2 for 110 in the 20th over to 222 in the 48th.
South Africa showed how good the pitch was and how bad Australia's total was as the home side's bowlers suffered as well. At times it looked like a tour game and the international batsmen were trying to out-do each other.
Australia failed to copy their pre-match talk and flopped after losing four key wickets in the middle of the innings to throw away the gains made by Ricky Ponting's aggressive half-century.
They were 2 for 17 in the third over before Ponting and Michael Hussey steered them away from the initial danger in a 93-run partnership. It was the brightest period of the match for the home team before Botha, the captain, restricted them during another strong performance with ball and brain.
Botha picked up two wickets in a ten-over spell worth 28 as the batsmen were unable to work out ways of deflecting him. His first breakthrough came when Hussey (28) was unhappy to be lbw trying to sweep and the collection was completed with a careless shot from Brad Haddin.
Ponting, who edged Albie Morkel on 38 but was given not out, was set for a big score until he found Neil McKenzie at short cover. He walked off wanting more than 63 off 70 as the South Africans congratulated Makhaya Ntini. Ntini (3 for 52) and Dale Steyn (3 for 49) were the most successful bowlers.
In the past five home one-day series Australia have beaten only New Zealand and Bangladesh, a cricinfo report said.