Captain Graeme Smith starred with the bat and snapped up two catches to help South Africa beat Australia by two runs in their Twenty20 match at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Friday.
Smith scored 89 not out as South Africa, after winning the toss, hit 201 for four before restricting Australia to 199 for seven in reply.
The world champions struggled to 124 for six after 13 overs but Brad Hogg and Brett Lee took them to the brink of victory with a quickfire seventh-wicket stand of 57 in 36 balls.
Smith claimed a brilliant diving catch at wide mid-on to remove Hogg for 41 off paceman Andrew Hall in the 19th over.
Simon Katich had given Australia an aggressive start with 39 off 22 deliveries including six fours and a six.
Katich fell to another Smith catch at wide mid-on, this time off seamer Roger Telemachus.
Even though Michael Clarke blasted three sixes in his 24-ball 37, Australia were under severe pressure when Hogg and Lee came together.
Hogg hammered three sixes in his innings while the hard-hitting Lee finished on 43 not out with four fours and two sixes.
Australia needed 19 to win off fast bowler Makhaya Ntini's final over and Lee's last-ball six proved in vain.
Hall was the pick of the South African attack, taking three for 22 in his four overs.
Earlier, Smith finally enjoyed success with the bat against the Australians after rain had delayed the start by two hours.
The captains agreed they should still play 20 overs a side and no Supersubs would be used.
Smith, who struggled for runs throughout the recent tour to Australia, made his undefeated 89 off 58 deliveries, clubbing 11 fours and one six.
He and Herschelle Gibbs added 111 in 65 balls for the second wicket before Gibbs was trapped lbw for 56 by seamer Mick Lewis.
Smith cracked left-arm seamer Nathan Bracken down the ground for two boundaries in the final over to end the South African innings on a high.
Paceman Lee only bowled three overs, conceding 15 runs. Lewis was the most successful member of Australia's attack with two for 31 in four overs.
The teams play the first match of the one-day series in Centurion on Sunday.
G Smith not out 89
L Bosman b Lewis 23
H Gibbs lbw b Lewis 56
S Pollock c Clark b Watson 2
J van der Wath c Clarke b Bracken 14
A de Villiers not out 0
Extras (b 3, lb 10, w 4) 17
Total ( for 4 wickets in 20 overs) 201
Fall of wickets: 1-48, 2-159, 3-170, 4-191.
Bowling: B Lee 3-0-15-0, N Bracken 4-0-44-1, M Lewis 4-0-31-2, S Clark 4-0-25-0, S Watson 3-0-35-1, B Hogg 2-0-38-0.
A Gilchrist lbw b Hall 1
S Katich c Smith b Telemachus 39
R Ponting lbw b Hall 6
D Martyn c de Villiers b Van der Wath 17
M Clarke st de Villiers b Peterson 37
S Watson b Peterson 4
B Hogg c Smith b Hall 41
B Lee not out 43
N Bracken not out 3
Extras (lb 3, w 5) 8
Total (for 7 wickets in 20 overs) 199
Fall of wickets: 1-16, 2-34, 3-53, 4-78, 5-93, 6-124, 7-181.
Bowling: M Ntini 3-0-44-0, A Hall 4-0-22-3, R Telemachus 4-0-40-1, A Van der Wath 4-0-40-1, G Smith 2-0-21-0, R Peterson 3-0-29-2.
Result: South Africa won by 2 runs.