Sydney: James Faulkner hit the winning boundary with five balls to spare to give Australia a thrilling two-wicket victory over South Africa yesterday and push them to the top of the ICC one-day rankings.

Security officials grab a streaker during the fifth ODI at Sydney yesterday
Security officials grab a streaker during the fifth ODI at Sydney yesterday 

Australia secured a 4-1 series win and nudged ahead of India to top the one-day rankings, less than three months before the start of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Four-time world champion Australia had started the series in third position on 114 ratings points and has now finished on equal points with India on 117 ratings points.

However, when the ratings are calculated beyond the decimal point, Australia is 0.2 clear of India and five ratings points clear of South Africa, which has dropped one place to third. Australia has enjoyed a total of 498 weeks at the top pedestal since the current rankings system was introduced in October 2002.

World champions India though will have a chance to come back to the top spot in the triangular series, also featuring Australia and England starting January 16.

Late scare
The Australians were cruising towards a rain-reduced victory target of 275 here but then lost four wickets for three runs to give the Proteas a late chance of victory.

Aussie James Faulkner shares a joke with his teammates in the dressing room yesterday. Pics/Getty Images
Aussie James Faulkner shares a joke with his teammates in the dressing room yesterday. Pics/Getty Images 

But Faulkner (six not out) got Australia over the line with a sweep for four off spinner Robin Peterson, who had bowled the Proteas into contention with four wickets.

Wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock was named man-of-the-match in a losing side for his 107 off 123 balls after South Africa won the toss and scored 280-6. The Australians seemed in control of the run chase with Aaron Finch scoring 76 (67 balls), Shane Watson 82 (93 balls) and man of the series Steve Smith 67 (74 balls).

But some reckless batting coupled with Peterson's mesmerising spin brought South Africa back into contention after the loss of Glenn Maxwell, Smith, skipper George Bailey, Matt Wade and Pat Cummins. Faulkner got the Australians home in the final over.

Brief scores
South Africa 280-6 in 50 overs (De Kock 107, F Behardien 63, R Rossouw 51, P Cummins 3-54) lost to Australia 275-8 in 47.1 overs (S Watson 82, A Finch 76, S Smith 67, R Peterson 4-32) by 2 wickets (D/L method)