India finished their tour of South Africa in triumph when they won the third Twenty20 international by seven runs at Newlands on Saturday.
India clinched the series 2-1 to complete a white ball double following a 5-1 victory in the earlier one-day international series.
India’s win was achieved despite the absence of inspirational captain Virat Kohli, who did not play because of a stiff back.
Stand-in captain Rohit Sharma said India had not allowed themselves to lose focus after losing the first two Tests before hitting back by winning the third Test and going on to dominate the limited-overs matches.India finish tour in triumph
“We showed a lot of intensity and played with a lot of aggression. We never backed down in any situation,” said Sharma.
Although South Africa got close to chasing down India’s 172 for seven, they were unable to recover fully after a slow start.
South African captain JP Duminy identified the opening six powerplay overs as the the crucial difference between the teams. India were 57 for one after six overs, South Africa struggled to 25 for one.
“They bowled pretty well in the powerplay,” said Duminy. “We just couldn’t get the boundaries and we couldn’t get the singles either. Credit to India, they had an outstanding white-ball tour.”
Duminy made 55 off 41 balls and new cap Christiaan Jonker slammed 49 off 24 balls before being caught off the last ball of the match. It got the hosts close but they never really threatened to reach the target.
Indian opening bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was named man of the series, again bowled outstandingly in the first six overs, delivering an opening spell of one for 13 in three overs.
Kumar came back to bowl the final over, with South Africa needing 19 runs to win and gave away only 11 runs before having Jonker caught at cover by Sharma. South Africa finished with 165 for six.
“In the short format you have to think with every ball,” said Kumar. “I just try to keep it very simple.”
South African fast bowler Junior Dala took three wickets and made a direct-hit run-out to keep India’s batting in check. Dala took three for 35 and ran out top-scorer Shikhar Dhawan for 47 with a direct hit from the midwicket boundary.
India lost Sharma to Dala in the second over but looked set for a big score when Suresh Raina went on the attack in a second wicket stand of 65 with Dhawan.
Raina, player of the match, hit 43 off 27 balls before he was caught at long-on off left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi.
Dhawan was more subdued. He was dropped twice and did not hit a boundary until the 12th over. Just when he seemed to be finding his timing, with two more boundaries, he was run out.
None of the remaining batsmen could make more than Hardik Pandya’s 21.