Yusuf Pathan hit a blistering 68-ball century, but he could not stop South Africa from winning the series-deciding fifth and final one-day international against India at SuperSport Park on Sunday.
South Africa won by 33 runs according to the Duckworth/Lewis method, clinching a come-from-behind 3-2 series win thanks mainly to a century by Hashim Amla and four wickets by fast bowler Morne Morkel.
Opening batsman Amla made 116 not out as South Africa reached 250 for nine in a rain-interrupted innings.
Set 268 to win, India were headed for a heavy defeat when they slumped to 119 for eight, with fast bowlers Morkel and Dale Steyn inflicting most of the damage, but Pathan unleashed a ferocious assault on the South Africa bowlers during a ninth-wicket stand of 100 with Zaheer Khan.
Pathan slammed eight sixes and eight fours as he made 105, before he top-edged another attempted big hit against Morkel and sent a catch spiraling to cover.
Khan got a reprieve when the stand was worth 20 when he top-edged a short ball from Morkel and was caught by wicketkeeper A.B. de Villiers, but umpire Simon Taufel asked television umpire Shaun George to check whether Morkel had bowled a no-ball. George ruled that Morkel had overstepped by millimeters and Khan batted on.
As the ball flew to all parts of the ground, South Africa captain Graeme Smith called on Morkel and the fast bowler finally induced a false stroke.
Morkel finished with four for 52 as India were all out for 234.
The Proteas were interrupted when the hosts were strongly placed at 226 for three after 42 overs. The rain caused a delay of more than an hour and the match was reduced to 46 overs a side.
The Proteas lost six wickets for 24 runs in the remaining four overs of their innings, with a succession of batsmen falling to ill-judged strokes and two run-outs in a chase for quick runs.
Dhoni sent South Africa in, hoping to take advantage of expected early morning life in the pitch — and also to have the option of revising his team’s strategy in the event of predicted rain interruptions.
Smith fell once again to left-arm opening bowler Khan — for the 11th time in international cricket — edging a catch to second slip in the third over, but Amla played a calm innings, content to play the supporting role in a second-wicket stand of 97 with Morne van Wyk, who made 56 off 63 balls, then picking up the pace in a fourth wicket stand of 102 off 98 balls with J.P. Duminy (35).
There were only four boundaries as Amla reached his half-century off 72 balls, but he added another five fours as he needed just 41 more deliveries to reach the first century by a batsman of either side in the series.
India opted to play only two seam bowlers, bringing in leg-spinner Piyush Chawla in place of Ashish Nehra. For the second match in a row, Dhoni used eight bowlers, mainly in short spells.
As in the fourth match in Port Elizabeth, left-arm spinner Yuvraj Singh was the most effective of the slow bowlers, taking two for 45 in eight overs, but when he conceded nine runs off his eighth over, Dhoni immediately took him out of the attack.