Yusuf Pathan hit a blistering 68-ball century but could not stop South Africa from winning the series-deciding fifth and final one-day international against India at SuperSport Park on Sunday.
South Africa won by 33 runs according to the Duckworth/Lewis method, clinching a come-from-behind 3-2 series win thanks mainly to a century by Hashim Amla and four wickets by fast bowler Morne Morkel.
Opening batsman Amla made 116 not out as South Africa reached 9-250 in a rain-interrupted innings.
Set to make 268 to win, India were headed for a heavy defeat when they slumped to 8-119 with fast bowlers Morkel and Dale Steyn inflicting most of the damage.
But Pathan unleashed a ferocious assault on the South African bowlers during a ninth wicket stand of 100 with Zaheer Khan.
Pathan slammed eight sixes and eight fours as he made 105 before he top-edged another attempted big hit against Morkel and sent a catch spiralling to cover.
Khan got a reprieve when the stand was worth 20 when he top-edged a short ball from Morkel and was caught by wicketkeeper AB de Villiers.
But umpire Simon Taufel asked television umpire Shaun George to check whether Morkel had bowled a no-ball. George ruled that Morkel had overstepped by millimetres and Khan batted on.
As the ball flew to all parts of the ground, South African captain Graeme Smith called on Morkel and the fast bowler finally induced a false stroke.
Morkel finished with four for 52 as India were all out for 234.
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni admitted that South Africa deserved to win.
"It has been a disappointing series for the batsmen. We have not really performed as a batting unit. To say we wanted to win the final game just because Yusuf scored a hundred was asking too much," said Dhoni.
Looking ahead to next month's World Cup, Dhoni said the big lesson for India was that if they were able to keep wickets in hand they could chase down almost any target with a powerful hitter like Pathan in the side.
Smith said South Africa had finished the series strongly.
"We were 2-1 down and we played two good games."
He said South Africa had paced their innings well, despite a late collapse after a rain break, and had bowled "really aggressively".