India overcame the absence of four top stars to beat South Africa by one run in a thrilling One-Day International on Sunday and take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Wayne Parnell was run out off the final delivery, attempting a second run that would have tied the match, to leave the Proteas on 297 all out in reply to India’s 298/9.
The tourists were tottering at 225/8 in the 43rd over when the ninth-wicket pair of Parnell and Dale Steyn swung the day-night match around by adding 65 off 38 balls.
South Africa, needing 26 off the final 12 deliveries, smashed 16 runs in the penultimate over of Ashish Nehra that included a six each by Parnell and Steyn.
With nine runs required from five deliveries, seamer Praveen Kumar bowled Steyn and conceded just seven more off the next four to hand India a thrilling win.
Parnell hit a defiant 49 off 47 balls and Steyn plundered an 18-ball 35, but the pair failed to take the tourists across the line at the Sawai Man Singh stadium in Jaipur.
Earlier, Suresh Raina top-scored with 58 off 63 balls and Virender Sehwag hammered a typically aggressive 46 off 37 balls as the hosts piled up 298/9 after being sent in to bat.
South Africa’s stand-in captain Jacques Kallis starred for the tourists with both bat and ball, claiming 3-29 from seven overs with his medium-pace bowling before making a fluent 89.
The veteran all-rounder hit six fours and a six before being eighth out, bowled by Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, 11 runs short of his 17th One-day century.
India took the field in the series opener without bowling spearheads Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, and frontline batsmen Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh.
Harbhajan was given permission to miss the first two matches due to his sister’s wedding, while the other three were injured.
Kallis led South Africa in the absence of Graeme Smith, who opted out of the One-dayers with a finger injury sustained during the Test series, which ended 1-1 last week.
When India batted, Sehwag and Dinesh Karthik (44) put on 79 for the second wicket in 75 balls after veteran Sachin Tendulkar was run out for four in the second over of the match.
Sehwag, who hit two audacious sixes over the third man and cover region, was unlucky to be run out when a Karthik drive was deflected to the non-striker’s wicket by bowler Charl Langeveldt.
South Africa made a flying start as Herschelle Gibbs (27) and Loots Bosman (29) put on 58 for the first wicket off just 8.4 overs.
South Africa, who were 134/3 at one stage, lost three middle-order wickets for 27 runs to slip to 161/6 by the 35th over.
The second match will be played in Gwalior on Wednesday and the third in Ahmedabad on Saturday.