Australia 383 and 3 for 127 (Warner 47) beat South Africa 9 for 259 dec and 250 (Cook 104, Starc 4-80, Lyon 3-60) by 7 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
In the end there was no whitewash - Australia were not swept in a home series for the first time since 1887. Instead, the dead-rubber bounce that Test cricket so often produces again manifested itself as Australia chased down 127 to win the third Test against South Africa at Adelaide Oval. Australia's sequence of five consecutive Test losses ended, and it ended with two debutant batsmen at the crease.
South Africa, of course, won the series. They finished with a 2-1 result that will still go down as an outstanding achievement given the developing nature of their own side. But if Australia were to take a consolation win after the mass overhaul to the side, it was perhaps fitting that two of the new boys would share the winning runs, which came when Peter Handscomb flicked through midwicket and called Matt Renshaw through for a single.
In many ways, this Adelaide Test felt like it was part of a completely different series from the Perth and Hobart matches. Of course, it was played with a pink ball as a day-night fixture, but Australia's team was also hard to recognise: five changes were made from the XI that lost in Hobart. Whatever the reasons, the public interest was sparked: the match crowd of 125,993 was the highest for any non-Ashes Test at Adelaide Oval.
Set a small target, Australia's new opening pair finally had the chance to bat together, Usman Khawaja having opened with Renshaw in the first innings because David Warner had spent too long off the field having treatment on an injured shoulder. Renshaw and Warner were a study in contrasts during their 64-run stand, as had been the case with Warner and past partners such as Ed Cowan and Chris Rogers.
Renshaw displayed more leaves than an evergreen, Warner as many as a deciduous tree in autumn. Warner rattled along at roughly a run a ball, Renshaw at a run an over. But all that mattered in this small chase was that wickets remained in hand. The 1994 SCG Test between Australia and South Africa remains an object lesson in how small chases can go awry: Australia were all out for 111 chasing 117.
There was no such joy for South Africa 22 years later. The first wicket did not fall until 19 overs into the innings, when Australia already had more than half their required runs. Warner, who had struck seven fours on his way to 47, pulled towards midwicket and called for a run that was probably not there; Renshaw sent him back, Temba Bavuma fielded in typically tidy style and threw to the keeper's end to run Warner out.
Two balls later, Khawaja played for non-existent turn from Tabraiz Shamsi and was trapped in front, though South Africa had to review Nigel Llong's on-field not-out decision to gain satisfaction. Australia had wobbled from 0 for 64 to 2 for 64, but any hopes South Africa had of a late rally were dashed by the steadying influence of Steven Smith, who struck 40 from 52 balls before he edged Kyle Abbott behind with only two runs needed.
Twice South Africa asked for reviews against Renshaw, once for a catch in the cordon and once for an lbw, but both relied on a mistake from umpire Richard Kettleborough - whose form in this series has been greater than any of the players - and both were struck down. Renshaw was free to keep batting, keep leaving, keep finding his way as a Test opener.
There were also plenty of plays and misses from Renshaw, but at least he showed the kind of mental strength that Australia require. Importantly, he was still there at the end, unbeaten on 34 from 137 balls. It was an innings that showed the high price Renshaw places on his wicket. At no stage did his lack of pace threaten Australia's victory hopes. This was a young man taking his time, and after Australia's recent batting collapses, who could complain about that?
The day had started with South Africa on 6 for 194 in their second innings, and they added 56 to their overnight total for the loss of their last four wickets. Stephen Cook moved to his second Test century before he was the last man to fall, bowled by Mitchell Starc for 104 as the South Africans were dismissed for 250.
Jackson Bird made the important first breakthrough when he had Quinton de Kock lbw for 5, the on-field not-out decision from Nigel Llong overturned on Australia's review. Vernon Philander put on 34 for the eighth wicket with Cook before Starc, using the new ball to great effect, swung a fullish delivery back in and trapped Philander lbw for 17.
Cook was running out of partners but had time to bring up his hundred from his 235th delivery, with a boundary pulled through square leg off Josh Hazlewood. It looked as if Cook was set to carry his bat through the innings, especially when Kagiso Rabada gloved behind trying to pull Hazlewood on 7, but in the next over Cook was done in by Starc's swing. Starc finished with 4 for 80, and South Africa simply had not made enough runs.
Not that they will especially care about this seven-wicket loss when in future years they reflect on their remarkable achievements on the 2016-17 tour of Australia. To win an away series with no AB de Villiers, almost no Dale Steyn, and no contributions of note from Hashim Amla - that is a feat that is worthy of the highest praise.
As for Australia? Right now, they'll take any sort of win, dead rubber or not. And the signs from Handscomb, who made a first-innings fifty, and Renshaw, are encouraging. It is up to Smith and his new-look squad to ensure the Adelaide Test is a turning point, not an aberration.