Stand-in captain Jacques Kallis produced a virtuoso all-round display but it was not enough to prevent South Africa suffering a dramatic one-run defeat in the opening one-dayer against India.
The South Africa stalwart led his side's pursuit of 298-9 with a sublime 89, however, after needing three runs for victory off the final ball, Wayne Parnell (49 off 47) could only manage a single as India drew first blood in the three-match series.
India trio Suresh Raina, (58) Virender Sehwag (46) and Dinesh Karthik (44) had earlier compiled quickfire innings to help the hosts towards 300.
Indeed, their total would have been much higher had it not been for an exceptional spell from Kallis (3-29) with the ball.
The right-arm seamer, captaining the side in place of the injured Graeme Smith, dismissed opposite number MS Dhoni, the impressive Raina and Ravindra Jadeja to keep the Proteas in touch.
India lost talisman Sachin Tendulkar (four) early in the piece and thereafter were pegged back by the loss of wickets at regular intervals.
Sehwag was subdued by the loss of his partner but Karthik showed positive intent when he came to the middle and runs began to flow for the home side.
The pair added 79 for the second wicket before both fell one shot away from their half-centuries.
Sehwag was cruelly run out, the opener caught backing up too far when a straight drive from Karthik brushed the fingertips of Charl Langeveldt and ricocheted off the stumps at the non-striker's end.
Langeveldt, a late addition to the South Africa squad, then lured Karthik into a top-edge which Alviro Petersen pouched comfortably at mid-on.
Captain Dhoni (26), batting up the order, kept the scoreboard ticking, but he departed to Kallis before a 66-run stand between Virat Kohli (31) and Raina lifted the hosts towards 300.
Explosive openers Herschelle Gibbs (27) and Loots Bosman (29) strode out to the middle and brought up the South Africa 50 at over run-a-ball pace.
However, when both men fell in the space of 16 balls it was left to Kallis to steady the ship with an imperious mix of power and finesse.
The classy right-hander struck six fours and one almighty six en route to an innings of 89 which gave his side an outside chance of victory.
When he departed South Africa still required 74 runs from just seven overs and only had two wickets remaining.
However, opening bowlers Parnell and Dale Steyn combined quite brilliantly down the order to put the Proteas on the brink of victory.
Left-hander Parnell clubbed four fours and one six and Steyn blasted 35 as South Africa all of a sudden required just 10 runs for victory off Praveen Kumar's last over.
Steyn departed with four balls remaining, and, despite Parnell's best efforts to scamper two off the final ball to salvage a draw, Dhoni whipped off the bails with the batsman short of his ground to spark wild celebrations in Jaipur.