India's bowlers held their nerve to edge out South Africa by seven runs in the final T20I at Newlands and claim the series 2-1.
India closed out a nervy finale in Newlands to secure a seven-run win against South Africa and clinch the T20I series 2-1. Christiaan Jonker smashed 49 off 24 balls on debut to gets hearts pumping, but experienced seamers Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar held their nerve to provide a winning end to a long tour.
Chasing 173 to win, South Africa looked to be going nowhere when captain JP Duminy (55) fell, but Jonker threw caution to the wind to set up a grand-stand finish in Cape Town. But needing 19 off the final over, Bhuvneshwar edged him out to seal a well-deserved win to go with the 5-1 triumph in the preceding ODI series.
India posted 172/7, largely thanks to contrasting innings from experienced top-order batsmen Shikhar Dhawan (47) and Suresh Raina (43), and it always looked like a tough ask for the hosts up against the Indian bowling attack.
And so it proved as South Africa laboured to 25/1 from their six-over Powerplay. Once Reeza Hendricks had departed to a Bhuvneshwar knuckle-ball, David Miller (24 off 23) and Duminy battened down the hatches, struggling to find the boundary.
The game seemed to be slipping out of their grasp as Miller and Centurion's hero Heinrich Klaasen (7) holed out off Raina and Hardik Pandya (1/22) respectively. Pandya in particular bowled superbly, finding 10 dot balls from his 24 balls to suffocate the scoring in the middle overs.
But to his credit Jonker backed his shots, getting two fours away off Raina's (1/27) part-time off-spin to get going before unleashing two legside sixes. Despite his efforts it still looked a long-shot for South Africa and Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar combined - like they have so often before - to clinch the game and the series for India.
Earlier, having been put into bat, India lost stand-in captain Rohit Sharma (11) lbw to Dala in the second over. With Dhawan struggling to get going, Raina took it upon himself to kick-start the innings, getting off the mark first ball with a whipped six over the legside.
Raina continued in a similar vein, scoring freely in boundaries, while Dhawan took until the 12th over to hit his first boundary. It was the pressure of Dhawan's non-scoring that forced Raina into a big shot and he was caught on the long-on boundary by Farhaan Behardien off the bowling of Tabraiz Shamsi for a 27-ball 43.
Dhawan was dropped twice by Shamsi, with a regulation catch at backward point and a steepling top-edge not claimed. The left-hander never really got going though and after just three boundaries he was run out superbly by a direct hit from Dala on the boundary.
The rest of India's runs came courtesy of smaller contributions from every batsman, with Pandya (21 off 17), MS Dhoni (12 off 11) and Dinesh Karthik (13 off 6) seeing them to a competitive 172/7.
Having been hit around the park early on, South Africa's seamers were much better at the death. Dala (3/35) had Manish Pandey (13) and Dhoni caught, while Chris Morris (2/43) saw off Pandya and Karthik at the death.
But despite their improvement towards the end, it was the loose bowling up front that ultimately did the damage for South Africa as they slipped to a second series defeat in the white ball formats to the tourists.