Second one-day international, Melbourne:
Australia 249-9 (50 overs) beat S Africa 244-6 (50 overs) by five runs
Marsh has scored 79 and 78 in the first two one-day games (Library photo)
Shaun Marsh continued his good form as Australia beat South Africa in Hobart to level the one-day series at 1-1.
Opener Marsh made 78 and added 135 with captain Ricky Ponting (64) as they made 249-9 from their 50 overs, with Makhaya Ntini taking 3-39 for South Africa.
Jacques Kallis (72) and AB de Villiers (44) then put the tourists in charge.
But a mini-collapse from 145-2 to 172-5 led to a slump in the run rate and, needing 17 from the last over, they finished five runs adrift on 244-6.
Ponting was delighted by the victory but afterwards admitted he had got the timing of Australia's batting powerplay wrong.
They did not take it until the start of the 40th over, but Ponting said he should have used around the 15-over mark when he and Marsh were well-set.
"[Dale] Steyn and Ntini had both bowled six overs at that stage. If we'd took it then, it would have forced them to bring those guys back and they would have been short at the back end," he commented.
"It's one of those rules you have to be very flexible with and try to use it to your advantage every time - and today we didn't use it as best as we could have."
He added: "It's added an extra dimension to the game and it gives me a little bit more thinking to do out on the field, which is not always a good thing."
David Warner made his one-day international debut for Australia in place of the injured Michael Clarke, but he managed only five before edging a ball from Steyn to keeper Mark Boucher.
Proteas paceman Ntini got a couple to whizz past Ponting's helmet, but the Australian captain responded with some adventurous hitting - although he needed two slices of luck when he was dropped by Neil McKenzie on 10, and Ntini just after he had reached 50.
Marsh was also dropped just after reaching his fifth half century in 10 matches, with stand-in skipper Johan Botha the culprit, but he and Ponting eventually fell in quick succession.
Ponting holed out to De Villiers at deep backward square leg, while Marsh was superbly caught by Kallis at extra cover off JP Duminy's occasional off-spin.
At that stage, Australia were 166-3 with 17 overs remaining and the Hussey brothers at the crease, and when the powerplay was finally taken the first ball saw Mike Hussey (28) spoon Kallis to Herschelle Gibbs at backward point.
Cameron White fell cheaply and David Hussey, Brad Haddin, James Hopes and Ryan Harris - making his ODI debut in place of Shaun Tait - hit just two boundaries between them as they got bogged down in the final overs.
South Africa lost Hashim Amla cheaply at the start of their reply and Gibbs was caught on the mid-wicket boundary for 19 when he tried to hit Hopes over the top.
Seamer Hilfenhaus took two wickets in front of his home crowd (Library photo)
But with Kallis and De Villiers adding 93 for the third wicket, the visitors must have been optimistic of forging a 2-0 lead in the series.
As with Marsh and Ponting, however, both fell in quick succession to derail the South African reply.
Within nine balls, Ben Hilfenhaus, playing in front of his home Tasmanian crowd, had Kallis caught at backward point, while De Villiers stumbled while attempting a second run and was run out to leave them 156-3 in the 37th over.
Harris then bowled Neil McKenzie to claim his first international wicket.
As in the first one-dayer, South Africa delayed taking their batting powerplay until the start of the 45th over - by which time they needed 60 from six overs.
But Nathan Bracken kept it tight, showing the control which has seen him ranked among the top ODI bowlers in the world - and Duminy was run out for 35 after failing to pick a yorker from the left-arm seamer.
Not even some lusty blows from Mark Boucher (37 not out), who lifted Hilfenhaus for a huge six in the last over, and Albie Morkel could prevent South Africa from finishing short.
Honours are now even going into Friday's third ODI in Sydney.
"I don't think we can be too disappointed. Both sides could be 2-0 up at this stage, it has been that close," said Botha.
"It is probably a fair reflection at the moment that the teams are locked at 1-1 and there is everything to play for in the three remaining fixtures."