The Proteas, even if they were plucky and competitive at times, played like the inexperienced and disjointed combination they looked like on paper as India comfortably won Wednesday’s 2nd T20 in Mohali by seven wickets.
With the first match in Dharamshala having been rained out, South Africa can no longer win the series with one battle left on Sunday.
On a flat, easy-going surface, the vistors’ mediocre 149/5 in their allotted 20 overs was never going to be enough against India’s power-packed batting unit.
Much of the Proteas’ progress had relied on skipper, Quinton de Kock, who looked in good form as he stroked eight fours from a sprightly 52 off 37.
In conjunction with Temba Bavuma, on debut, they gave their side a fine platform at 88/1 after 11.1 overs, before De Kock succumbed to a spectacular one-handed catch by his counterpart, Virat Kohli.
That dismissal took the wind properly out of South Africa’s sails.
The diminutive Bavuma capitalised well on Hardik Pandya’s initial waywardness, hitting two fours and a six, but the latter stages of the innings revealed his lack of hitting power.
His 49 off 43 was undeniably valuable though it felt hollow too.
With David Miller (18), who’s probably batting too low, once again left with too much to do at the back end, the Proteas simply couldn’t muster enough runs before Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius belatedly both hit sixes in the last over.
India’s seamers’ ability to mix up their pace was very impressive, with Deepak Chahar rewarded with fine figures of 2/22.
The pace of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje was punished to the tune of 30 runs in the first three overs, allowing India to canter home.
Kohli was again a thorn in the flesh, striking a magnificent, unbeaten 72 off 52.
He was well supported by Shikhar Dhawan (40) as only Phehlukwayo (1/20) and Tabraiz Shamsi (1/19) bowled consistently with some sort of control.