Australia 183 for 4 (Ponting 63, Clarke 44) beat South Africa 129 (Johnson 3-20, Cummins 3-28) by 93 runs (D/L method)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Australia were inconvenienced more by rain than South Africa as they rampaged through the hosts in a truncated first ODI in Centurion, winning by 93 runs under Duckworth-Lewis calculations.
Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey guided the tourists to 183 for 4 from 29 overs, setting a target of 223, before the debutant Pat Cummins and Mitchell Johnson shared six wickets to lead their team on a merry path in the field.
The ball swung and bounced in greasy conditions, and in a significant portent for the matches to come, Johnson gained the kind of movement through the air that had helped make him so fearsome on Australia's 2009 visit to South Africa.
Mitchell Marsh, the other teenaged debutant, claimed a wicket in his first over. The spin of Xavier Doherty was also useful as the Proteas subsided, none passing 30 in a searching captaincy introduction for the interim leader Hashim Amla.
Sent off by rain at 3.57pm local time when a promising 96 for 1 after 19 overs, Australia managed to collect another 87 runs in 10 overs when play finally resumed at 8.30pm.
Ponting and Clarke resumed at the rapid pace the equation required, before Australia's captain was unfortunately out when Ponting's drive rebounded off Johan Botha's fingers as Clarke was backing up. Hussey, though, scooted along with typical late-innings speed, and Marsh managed one boundary in his first innings.
South Africa's chase was immediately inconvenienced by the sight of Doug Bollinger and Johnson hooping the ball around. Bollinger swiftly accounted for Graeme Smith, given lbw to one that did not swing but may have been passing over the top of the stumps, and Johnson showed the disconcerting swerve he gained two years ago could be repeated this time around.
Cummins replaced Johnson at first change, and while his first ball in ODIs was slapped impudently over cover for six by Amla, the 18-year-old was soon repeating the trick of his first two Twenty20 internationals by claiming multiple wickets in an over. Jacques Kallis dragged an expansive stroke onto his stumps, before JP Duminy was dismissed for the third time in as many innings by Cummins when he parried indeterminately to Clarke at second slip.
Marsh had Amla caught neatly by Brad Haddin from a squirted drive in his first over, and Doherty struck twice via referrals. First he had David Miller caught at point after the umpires at first adjudged a bump ball, then Mark Boucher was lbw on review to a delivery that drifted towards leg stump and straightened enough to convince Hawk-Eye's ball-tracker.
Johnson added his name to the list of wicket-takers via Faf du Plessis' desperate swing and an outfield catch, as Australia's chief concern turned from South Africa's batting to the skies above. Rain threatened to re-appear, but the final result was not in doubt from the moment the minimum 20 overs had been completed.
Australia had been unable to consider Shaun Marsh and Shane Watson due to injury, and so handed limited-overs debuts to the allrounder Mitchell Marsh, a day before his 20th birthday and Cummins who had yet to take a list A wicket for his state.
David Warner was joined at the top of the batting order by Ponting, an occasional opener down the years, and it was the younger man who swung into early action, gliding Lonwabo Tsotsobe's first ball through point, then cracking a trio of boundaries from Dale Steyn, the last two via the generous avenues of a no ball and a free-hit.
Next ball Steyn corrected, finding the ideal length and a hint of swing to beat Warner's forward prod via the inside edge. This left Clarke and Ponting to set the course of the innings against bowlers they will see plenty of throughout the next month.
Lights were employed inside 10 overs as the skies darkened, and Clarke and Ponting negotiated the odd awkward delivery by Morne Morkel while keeping the run-rate around five. Steyn swung the ball in his second spell but could not split the partnership before thunder, then rain, arrived.
Returning to the pitch more than four hours later, Ponting and Clarke fired off a series of smart strokes before Clarke's ill-luck, and Ponting went on until he sliced Steyn to backward point. Brad Haddin was sacrificed in the effort to lift the run-rate, before Hussey and Marsh pushed the total into dimensions that proved far too vast for South Africa.