The Proteas suffered a 48-run defeat by India in the third T20I on Tuesday after failing to recover from a slow start to their run chase.
After the hosts were invited to bat first in Visakhapatnam, openers Ruturaj Gaikwad (57) and Ishan Kishan (54) put on 97 for the first wicket to guide them to 179-5.
Then, Harshal Patel, who returned his T20I best figures of 4-25, and Yuzvendra Chahal shared seven wickets to bowl out South Africa for 131, as India bounced back from their opening two losses.
Gaikwad started cautiously before exploding as he hit four boundaries off fast bowler Anrich Nortje in a 20-run fifth over to give the team a blazing start.
He reached his maiden fifty off 30 balls in his sixth T20I for India before left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj finally broke the stand and sent back the batsman with a caught-and-bowled effort.
Kishan changed gears and took on Maharaj with two fours and a six to bring up his fifty in 31 balls.
The bowlers hit back with two wickets, including Kishan falling to pace bowler Pretorius.
David Miller and Rassie van der Dussen dropped outfield catches to allow Hardik Pandya and skipper Rishabh Pant a life each. But Pant was soon caught by skipper Temba Bavuma for six.
Pandya hit an unbeaten 21-ball 31 to boost the Indian total after Proteas bowlers had attempted to check the scoring at the back end.
HIGHLIGHTS: India vs Proteas (3rd T20I)
In reply, the Proteas lost Bavuma for eight off 10 balls and kept losing wickets including Reeza Hendricks (23 off 20) and Pretorius (20 off 16) at regular intervals.
Chahal got Rassie van der Dussen and Pretorius with his leg-spin and soon Harshal sent back the in-form David Miller, for three.
Heinrich Klaasen, who hit 81 in his team’s second win, attempted to turn things around with a few boundaries but his departure off Chahal further dimmed South Africa’s hopes. He made 29.
Harshal returned to wrap up the tail in 19.1 overs.
The fourth match is on Friday in Rajkot.