India beat South Africa by seven runs in an exciting final T20I at Newlands in Cape Town to seal a 2-1 series win.
The clash had looked beyond South Africa’s grasp with five overs remaining, but an excellent cameo by debutant Christiaan Jonker provided some fireworks and brought the home side within reach.
Chasing India’s total of 172-7, South Africa could only manage 165-6, and Jonker finished with 49 runs off just 24 balls.
India’s bowlers had made it difficult for the home side earlier in the innings, and at one stage, the Proteas found themselves needing to score more than 15 runs an over.
The South African chase didn’t start off well, as they lost Reeza Hendricks, who was fooled by a slower ball by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and was easily caught by Shikhar Dhawan at midwicket.
Skipper JP Duminy joined David Miller in the middle, and the two made sure they kept the strike rotating as boundaries were hard to come by.
Miller, in desperate need of a big innings, sent Hardik Pandya for a six in the ninth over, but the required run rate was edging toward the 12-an-over mark.
The off-form Miller was eventually out for 24 when he was caught by Axar Patel at deep mid-wicket off the bowling off Suresh Raina.
With the required run-rate climbing, the fall of Miller brought together Duminy and Heinrich Klaasen, South Africa’s heroes at Centurion, much to the excitement of the capacity Newlands crowd.
With South Africa looking to up their run rate, which was climbing with every dot ball, Heinrich was fortunate to be dropped by Shardul Thakur at long-on. Duminy then dispatched the next two balls for sixes, as they put on 16 runs in Patel’s first over.
Heinrich, however, could not repeat his heroics from Centurion as he was dismissed for just seven.
Duminy brought up his second consecutive half-century, but his innings was over three balls later when he tried to go after Thakur again, only to be caught at mid-wicket by Sharma.
That brought Jonker to the crease, and the debutant played a number of exquisite shots to give the home side a sniff. In the end, it was not enough for the Proteas.
Earlier in the day, Junior Dala had starred for the South Africans as they restricted India to just 172-7.
India 172-7 (20 overs): Shikhar Dhawan 47, Suresh Raina 43, Junior Dalal 3-35, Chris Morris 2-43
South Africa 165-6 (20 overs): JP Duminy 55, Christiaan Jonker 49, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2-24, Hardik Pandya 1-22
India won by seven runs to win the series 2-1