Johan Botha, the South Africa captain, praised the performances of Mark Boucher and Albie Morkel after they showed why they get paid "the big bucks" in the tight four-wicket Twenty20 win over Australia. Boucher and Morkel concluded the hosts' recovery from 83 for 5 to reach 168 for 6 with four balls remaining.

"It got a bit tight but you know with those two out there, that's why they get paid the big bucks," Botha told AAP. "They do it under pressure and they did it again tonight.

"With those two in with a long way to go, we knew we still had a chance. [Boucher] has done it many times before and he just showed us tonight that he is probably our best finisher with Albie."

Botha said Morkel, who made his Test debut in Cape Town last week, would be a huge asset for South Africa during Sunday's second Twenty20 and the following one-day series. "His bowling is also going to be important," he said. "He's a world-class allrounder."

Ricky Ponting was also impressed by the effort of Morkel, who took 1 for 36 before his 37 off 19 deliveries. "He probably won a couple of games single-handedly with his batting in Australia," Ponting said. "His power hitting tonight probably got them over the line again.

"So he is a very, very dangerous hitter. They use him very well. They hold him off as late as they possibly can and let him go in for the final onslaught really."

Ponting said Australia got into a position where they should have won. "That's the disappointing thing about it," he said. "If we had got blown off the park then I would not have been as disappointed.

"[Brett] Geeves and [Shane] Harwood deserved their opportunity to play and both of them would have learnt a lot from their experience. They are bowling to good players on good wickets and it just goes to show in this game, you've got to execute everything every ball almost perfectly as a bowler or you are going to go around the park."

Despite the first-up success, Botha is looking for improvement for Sunday's match in Centurion. "We want to play a lot better than we did tonight," Botha said. "If we can win there, it will definitely give us momentum for the one-dayers."