In the end, it was probably a fitting end to a solitary Twenty20 international sandwiched between South Africa's tour of New Zealand, the Asia Cup and the Indian Premier League. In the end, it was rain that proved decisive in what was shaping up to be a close chase and what could have been the highest successful one in T20Is. In the end, MS Dhoni was once again left to rue the profligacy of his medium-pacers and assorted part-time bowlers.
Gautam Gambhir had launched India's pursuit of 220 in a blaze of boundaries but even a total of 71 for 0 after 7.5 overs proved to be comfortably behind the Duckworth-Lewis par score of 82, such had been South Africa's dominance earlier with the bat.
Half-centuries from Colin Ingram and Jacques Kallis had lifted the hosts to their second-highest T20I total, and the fourth-highest ever. With all his three medium-pacers going for runs, Dhoni was forced to overuse his part-time spinners, who collectively went for 87 in seven overs.
Kallis showed no sign of any jet lag after having flown halfway across the world from New Zealand just in time for this game. Ingram, with a T20I strike-rate of 117.85 before this match, stroked his way to his maiden half-century in the format, his 78 taking 50 deliveries.
There was no respite for India right from the start as their three medium-pacers - with similar pace and reliance on swing - were easily taken for boundaries. Richard Levi provided India a sampler of what was in store for them, dismissively swatting Praveen Kumar and Irfan Pathan for a couple of fours each. Irfan provided temporary relief to his captain when he got Levi to edge one going across to slip but Ingram signalled there would be no let-up with an exquisite punch past point for four off his first ball.
Vinay Kumar began promisingly with an over that went for just two but Ingram and Kallis ensured South Africa were always in charge. India seemed to have stopped the torrent of runs to some extent as R Ashwin and Suresh Raina got through a couple of tight overs but Kallis and Ingram responded in style. Ashwin and Rohit Sharma were dispatched over midwicket for huge sixes.
Dhoni turned to the slow-mediums of Virat Kohli. Kallis lofted him past long-on for four and crashed the next two deliveries past the sweeper cover. After having slog-swept Ashwin over deep midwicket, Kallis found the fielder on the second attempt to depart for 61 off 42 but by then the second-wicket stand had realised 119 off 80.
More punishment lay in store for India as Vinay disappeared for 20 in the 17th over, 14 of those coming in three deliveries against Ingram who slashed, flicked and cut for boundaries.
Though Ingram holed out to deep midwicket off the first ball of the 18th, Farhaan Behardien and Justin Ontong took 14 off the 19th over bowled by Irfan. With Praveen and Vinay available to bowl the last over, Dhoni went for Raina.
Ontong earned ten off the first two deliveries with a loft over extra cover and a slog over midwicket. Though Ontong was bowled off the third, Albie Morkel hammered two sixes and a four off the last three as Raina went for 26 in the over, and 49 in four.
The last ball of the innings typified how shell-shocked India were, as Ashwin lost a straightforward catch in the lights to concede a six at long-on. That stroke boosted South Africa to 219, a score which would require India to better the highest-successful chase in T20Is they achieved against Sri Lanka in 2009.
Gambhir seemed to be in the mood to pull it off on his own, laying into Albie Morkel's first over which went for 16. Before the heavens opened up, it rained slashes, cuts, hooks, top edges and outside edges from Gambhir's bat. India might have gone at a quicker rate but Robin Uthappa struggled to get going at the other end, scoring at below a run-a-ball.
The only other man, apart from Kallis, from the South Africa Test squad to New Zealand to be playing this game, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, squeezed in three overs that went for only 15, ensuring that Duckworth-Lewis went against India.