South Africa lost the ODI series to India in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday night, yet another failure by their short-staffed batting line-up causing a 73-run defeat that gave the tourists a 4-1 lead with one game to play.
The Proteas were chasing 275 for victory, a smaller target than looked likely in the first half of the Indian innings, with the tourists again pegged back by the valiant efforts of the bowlers.
But the same old errors were evident in the South African top-order, with batsmen getting in and then getting out, and wickets being lost in clumps.
Hopes were lifted by the win at the Wanderers last weekend, but in truth what was basically a T20 match with India using a wet ball hid the same old failings in this Proteas batting line-up.
Hashim Amla and Aiden Markram started well with an opening stand of 52, but when Markram was caught off a leading edge against Jaspreet Bumrah for 32, it started a collapse of three wickets for 13 runs as JP Duminy (1) and AB de Villiers (6) both fell cheaply to Hardik Pandya.
Amla and David Miller (36) added 62 for the fourth wicket, but with a dry ball, the Indian spin twins, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, once again had the batsmen often groping in the dark.
Miller charged Chahal and was bowled, but the Proteas were keeping themselves in with a chance as Amla and Heinrich Klaasen, who produced another good innings of 39 at the death, took them to 166 for four with 16 overs left.
But as is often the case with the Proteas, they then shot themselves in the foot as Amla, having scored a fine 71, ran himself out.
With Chris Morris sitting out with a sore back, the Proteas hamstrung themselves by weakening an already undermanned batting line-up, with Tabraiz Shamsi replacing the all-rounder.
With Andile Phehlukwayo batting at number seven and being bowled for a three-ball duck by Kuldeep, South Africa’s tail, with Morne Morkel at number nine, was blown away by the spinners as the last four wickets tumbled for just five runs.
India, having been sent in to bat, were given a tremendous platform by opener Rohit Sharma, who came through the tough times on tour with an impressive 115 off 126 balls.
With Shikhar Dhawan contributing 34 and Virat Kohli 36, India were extremely well-placed on 176 for two in the 32nd over.
But there were two run outs while Rohit was at the crease and South Africa’s bowling once again tightened up considerably in the second half of the innings, led by Lungi Ngidi, who took four for 51.
Needing 275, South Africa were certainly in the game, but produced another woeful batting display, Kuldeep taking four for 57 in 10 overs.