Fifth one-day international, Perth:
South Africa 288-6 (50 ovs) bt Australia 249 (49 ovs) by 39 runs
De Villiers shared a crucial partnership with Amla (library photo)
South Africa followed their Test series win over Australia by replacing them at the top of the one-day rankings, taking the series 4-1 with a 39-run triumph.
They chose to bat in Perth and were anchored by a calm 97 from 117 balls by Hashim Amla, who shared 118 in 23 overs with AB de Villers, who made 60 off 71.
JP Duminy hit an unbeaten 60 from 42 with three sixes to take them to 288-6.
Mike Hussey made 78 and Brad Haddin 63 but debutant seamer Lonwabo Tsotsobe's 4-50 saw Australia all out for 249.
It was another resilient performance from the South Africans, and achieved with one of their most inexperienced line-ups.
There was no Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince, Mark Boucher or Dale Steyn, and the bowling attack comprised two left-arm debutants, Tsotsobe and 19-year-old Wayne Parnell.
On a warm afternoon for the day/night encounter at the WACA, the fit-again Nathan Bracken created an early opportunity for Australia, when Herschelle Gibbs came down the wicket to him and skied to the on-side, but substitute Cameron White could not hold the difficult chance running back from mid-on.
Still intent on the big shots, Gibbs departed in the next over, top-edging to mid-on having come down the wicket again.
Amla picked up six with a deft upper cut off Ben Hilfenhaus, but Neil McKenzie fell in the first over from James Hopes, also trying to advance down the pitch.
Amla's calm presence helped to lay the foundations (library photo)
The big partnership that followed contained only four boundaries, all of them to De Villiers, but helped create a strong platform.
De Villiers clearly felt the scoring needed to increase, however, and sacrificed his wicket in the 37th over, caught at deep mid-wicket, while Amla fell three short of the first century of the series when he feathered a catch to the keeper attempting another late cut.
Duminy smashed Mitchell Johnson over mid-on for six as 20 came off the 45th over and added sixes in the next two overs from Bracken as 92 came from the final 10 and a stiff target was posted.
Ponting made a fast start as usual, with two typically fluent drives through the off-side early in his innings off Tsotsobe.
But they were to be his only boundaries as the debutant continued with the prize wicket of the Australia captain, who top-edged a short one and wicketkeeper De Villers ran back to pouch the spiralling chance.
Michael Clarke fell in the next over, attempting to leave one from Morne Morkel, only for the ball to glance off the bat on to the stumps.
Dashing opener David Warner, having smashed Morkel down the ground for four in the third over, flat-batted the paceman over mid-wicket for six.
But having reached 22 he was dismissed in the most unfortunate fashion, as Mike Hussey's straight drive was deflected back on to the timbers by Parnell and a diving Warner was well out of his ground.
The Hussey brothers consolidated, but the required run-rate still increased to more than seven per over, as no boundary was scored for more than 14 overs.
Home supporters were hoping for a partnership of the magnitude of the one between Amla and De Villiers, but it ended on 69 when David drove the innocuous-looking off-spin of Duminy straight to short cover.
That brought in Brad Haddin with 167 needed at a rate of 8.1 per over, but the ever-combative Hussey rode his luck to reach a gritty 50 from 72 balls.
Hussey moved down the pitch to flick a Duminy full toss for a one-bounce four in the 34th over, only the eighth of the innings, but when drinks were taken at the end of the over, the requirement was 144 from 16 - nine per over.
Having survived a difficult chance when Botha could not cling on to one running back from cover, Hussey took the batting powerplay with 37 overs gone and 131 still needed.
With only three men allowed outside the circle, Hussey tried his best to accelerate, launching Tsotsobe over mid-off for six and glancing a full toss behind square for four.
But the young seamer had the nerve to send down a slower ball, and it completely deceived the left-hander to knock back leg-stump.
An eventful over costing 19 was completed by a mammoth six over mid-wicket from Haddin that left 108 needed from 66 balls.
The shrewd Botha bowled Hopes but Haddin's fourth four recorded his fifth ODI fifty from 39 balls.
Albie Morkel injured his leg after a collision with Vaughn van Jaarsveld chasing a top edge in the deep but it not dampen South African spirits, which were soon lifted again as the amiable Tsotsobe appealed for a return catch from Johnson almost as an after-thought, replays confirming a clear dismissal.
Tsotsobe held a catch over his head to oust Haddin and give Parnell a maiden wicket, and substitute Steyn took the winning catch off the bowling of Morne Morkel.
South Africa have the opportunity to claim the top Test ranking from the Australians as well when the series against them begins in Johannesburg on 26 February.