Harare – Mitchell Marsh hit a brutal unbeaten 86 as Australia posted 282 for seven in a crucial one-day triangular series game against South Africa in Harare on Tuesday.

Australia were battling to increase their scoring rate when Marsh arrived at the crease, but the all rounder struck seven sixes in a 51-ball innings to help his side take 94 runs from the last eight overs.

Marsh's big hitting included three successive sixes off the bowling of Dale Steyn - the first time that the fast bowler had conceded that many sixes in a single ODI over.

Australia's innings had been pedestrian up until that point, with Phil Hughes rarely getting into his full stride in the course of his 85 from 92 balls.

South Africa picked up regular wickets after winning the toss and electing to bowl, which sucked the momentum out of the Australian innings.

Although Hughes put on 85 for the second wicket with Steve Smith, who returned to the Australian side and batted at No. 3 in the absence of the injured Michael Clarke, the spin duo of Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso picked up three cheap wickets.

Phangiso recorded figures of two for 39 in his 10 overs, and his dismissal of skipper George Bailey left Australia 187 for five in the 42nd over.

However Marsh came to the rescue with his heavy hitting, which gave Australia something to bowl at.

Should Australia fail to beat South Africa, it would leave the door open for Zimbabwe to qualify for Saturday's final when they take on South Africa on Thursday in the last game of the round robin stage. – AFP