Australia 231 (Carey 47, Lynn 44, Rabada 4-54, Pretorius 3-32) beat South Africa 9 for 224 (Miller 51, du Plessis 47, Stoinis 3-35)

Australia secured a cathartic, series-levelling victory in the second ODI against South Africa in Adelaide, holding the visitors to 9 for 224 to win by seven runs. The bowling attacks slugged it out as batsmen on either side struggled to build on their starts, with four men reaching the 40s but none able to play the decisive innings. Australia were bowled out an over and a half shy of their 50 overs for 231, and South Africa fell short despite David Miller's fifty.

Cross-seamed deliveries and cutters brought the most profit for bowlers on both sides, Dwaine Pretorius picking up 3 for 32 in the afternoon and Marcus Stoinis making several crucial breakthroughs for a return of 3 for 35 that turned the match decisively. Kagiso Rabada's extra bounce brought him 4 for 54, with three of those dismissals being caught behind, but South Africa's efforts with the ball were ultimately bettered by Australia's to keep the series alive heading into the third match in Hobart on Sunday.

South Africa's top order made a lot of the same errors in execution as Australia's had earlier in the day, as well as coming up with a few of their own. Reeza Hendricks nicked an off-stump outswinger from Josh Hazlewood, but Quinton de Kock and Heinrich Klaasen fell to deliveries they should have scored off, de Kock flicking off his pads against Mitchell Starc straight to Adam Zampa at fine leg and Klaasen pulling a half tracker into Chris Lynn's lap at midwicket. Even more reproachable was Aiden Markram's dismissal, run out for 19 taking on Stoinis' arm for an unlikely third to ruin what had been a mostly fluent start in the Powerplay despite the pace and swing of Starc with the new ball.

The upshot was that South Africa were four down inside 15 overs in their chase, but with Miller and Faf du Plessis at the crease they steadied the chase. There was parity in the scoreline through the first 20 overs of both innings, though South Africa had lost more early wickets to be 4 for 95 to Australia's 2 for 96.

Du Plessis and Miller were doing a commendable job of absorbing the pressure placed upon them when - against the run of play - du Plessis chopped a short ball from Pat Cummins onto his own stumps to fall for 47.

After 35 overs, the scorelines were still neck and neck, with South Africa having reached 5 for 162, and when Pretorius spliced a pull tamely to midwicket shortly before the match entered the final 10 overs, the set-up was virtually identical to what had transpired in Australia's innings. Where Alex Carey had been their only set batsman at the death in the first innings, for South Africa that job fell to Miller.

He brought up a 68-ball fifty in the 41st over - the first batsman of the series to reach the mark - but the pressure upon him increased significantly when Stoinis beat Dale Steyn with another cross-seamed delivery. South Africa were 7 for 184 with 48 still needed from 50 balls

That soon became 8 for 187 when Stoinis trapped Miller in front for 51, a review overturning Umpire Michael Gough's original not out decision. Australia finally pulled ahead of South Africa as the visitors' tail briefly wagged but never really threatened to overturn their total as Aaron Finch expertly marshaled his bowling resources.

Australia's batsmen had crumbled in similar fashion to the sustained pressure of a South African attack that gave no quarter in the afternoon. Aaron Finch, Shaun Marsh, Lynn and Carey all got in and then got out, and every time Australia built up a little momentum, South Africa found a breakthrough, repeatedly exhibiting their ability to prise set batsmen from the crease.

Or rather, Australia's batsmen repeatedly found ways to get out, with poor shot selection throughout the top order. Travis Head fell playing across his front pad early, Marsh wafted outside off stump to be caught behind for 22, and Finch dragged on against Pretorius for 41.

Australia's innings slowed as Imran Tahir tied Lynn and Carey down with a tight, wicket-to-wicket line, and with singles difficult to come by, Lynn banked on his boundary-hitting ability to keep the score ticking over. But the same attacking instincts lead to his dismissal for a run-a-ball 44 when he greeted Rabada's return to the attack in the 27th over with 18 off the first four balls, and then gloved a bouncer off the fifth. Having been carted to all corners in the previous four deliveries, Rabada roared his celebration at the dismissal as he ran past the departing batsman - possibly putting himself in danger of a sanction from match referee Jeff Crowe.

The procession continued as Glenn Maxwell flashed a cut off Pretorius through to de Kock, Stoinis heaved across the line to present Hendricks with a stinging chance at midwicket, and Cummins and Starc were both beaten for pace by Steyn.

Following the pattern set by those ahead of him in the order, Carey battled his way to 47 and then misjudged the bounce on a length delivery from Rabada, guiding an edge through to de Kock for his fourth catch behind the stumps. Zampa gave the innings just a little oomph with a quickfire 22 and those runs, plus his fightback with the ball after an expensive five overs, would prove vital in the eventual outcome.

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town