Australia's mix of seam and spin bowling flummoxed South Africa as they limped to 128 for seven in the third and final T20 international at SuperSport Park. File photo by: Themba Hadebe/AP

Port Elizabeth – As the dust settled in a 231 run victory for South Africa, Australian captain Michael Clarke said the Proteas were deserving winners.

The hosts bowled out Australia for 216 in their chase of 448 on day four of the second Test at St George's Park in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.

“South Africa deserve a lot of credit,” said Clarke after South Africa had levelled the three match series 1-1.

“We were outplayed with both bat and ball throughout this Test match. They played extremely well.”

A ferocious spell of fast bowling from South Africa's Dale Steyn spurred the Proteas to victory. Clarke paid special tribute to the efforts of the South African quick.

“We saw a class spell of reverse swing bowling from all three of the South African fast bowlers.

“Dale Steyn and South Africa showed us how to get the ball reversing. We didn't get one ball to reverse in both innings.

“South Africa deserved to win this Test match.”

While the headlines will focus on Australia losing 10 wickets in just over a session and a bit, Clark said his side's poor first innings total of 246 had been critical.

“The common denominator when you lose games is that you don't bowl teams out for a low enough score.

“Or you're not making enough runs as a batting unit. It's not about conditions, you have to credit some great bowling from South Africa.

“We certainly didn't bat as well as we needed to, certainly in the first innings. We've got to a find a way to turn that around in the next few days, and make sure we are at our best like we were seven days ago.”

As openers Chris Rogers (107) and David Warner (66) scored runs with apparent ease during an opening stand of 126, it appeared as if Australia were going for the win. Clarke, however, said he was always weary of the South African bowling attack.

“For people who don't know much about the game, they may think that because you're none for 120 that you're in contention to win the game.

“We knew the hardest period in this Test match would be when the ball got old and started to reverse.”

Australia came into the match off a resounding 281 run win over the Proteas a week ago, but slipped to a similar margin of defeat in a short period.

“I think it's credit to both teams, when one of the teams has momentum they run with it.

“The fact that you've seen two four day Test matches shows that you've got two class teams, that when they've got momentum they're tough to stop.” – Sapa