Chasing 359, India ran into a South Africa bowling attack from an unplayable, unstoppable planet, leading to a tame surrender of 217 all out and a 141-run defeat.
Quinton De Kock blazed a trail of elegant glory on his way to his second one-day international century as South Africa gave India a taste of what was to come for the rest of the tour with a huge score in the first ODI at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.
Taking charge right from the off, De Kock beguiled the Indian bowlers with some wonderful left-handed artistry, piling on 135 masterful runs to help South Africa, in bright pink on breast cancer day at the Wanderers, to 358 for four in their 50 overs.
AB De Villiers (77, 47b, 6x4, 4x6) and JP Duminy (59 n.o., 29b, 2x4, 5x6) smacked one boundary after another towards the end as the hosts went six and four-happy to set a menacing this-is-not-going-to-be-a-India-party tone.
India needed an opening partnership of note to stand any chance of overhauling the massive target, but that was never going to be in the cards, not with the bowling form of the hosts.
Dale Steyn was quite literally unplayable, as Rohit Sharma wafted at air time and again, beaten by the South African spearhead more often than a mule in a race against thoroughbreds.
It took Sharma 16 deliveries to get bat on ball, with the 17th one giving him his first runs, and the first runs off Steyn, who finished with ridiculous figures of 8-3-25-3. That spell from the brilliant fast bowler set the tone for the rest of the innings, as the Indian batsmen - the in-form Indian batsmen, don't forget - were befuddled and clueless like a new kid in school looking to find his way.
Shikhar Dhawan raised hopes with three delectable boundaries off Lonwabo Tsotsobe at the other end, but the first ball from Morne Morkel in the sixth over saw him sky a pull shot into the hands of wicketkeeper De Kock.
Virat Kohli could not produce another brilliant innings for India. Reuters
Kohli walked in with India needing some serious aggression from their premier ODI batsman. However, under the onslaught from the South African bowlers, the cockiness, so visible from Kohli so often, disappeared as India dithered.
After a scratchy, at best, few overs, Ryan McLaren (three for 49) found the outside edge of Kohli (31, 35b, 5x4), before welcoming Yuvraj Singh with a snorter. The next delivery saw Yuvraj see his timber disturbed leaving India on 60 for three from 15 overs.
Sharma (18, 43b, 2x4), somehow still at the crease refusing to give his wicket away, did eventually end up back in the pavilion as Suresh Raina called his partner for an ill-timed drop-and-run, with David Miller finding a direct hit to dismiss the Indian opener.
Raina (14, 20b, 2x4) hung around for a while before falling, with Ravindra Jadeja at least managing a decent 29 as skipper Dhoni (65, 71b, 8x4, 1x6) ploughed a lone furrow in a desperately losing cause.
Earlier, Dhoni gave his bowlers a do-your-jobs-now look after winning the toss and choosing to field first, but it turned out to be the Proteas batsmen that had the magical touch in typically South African conditions - conditions which prompted home side skipper AB De Villiers to go with four fast bowlers and ignore the spin options.
De Kock is this wonderfully elegant left-handed batsman - aren't they all - so strong on the offside and capable of taking the game away from the bowlers with a swing here, a push there and a flick everywhere with the bat. At the other end was the peerless Hashim Amla, circumspect and attacking at the same time.
The India pace bowlers took some time to find the right length on the quick pitch, which was coming onto the bat quite nicely, and by the time they got into any sort of rhythm the openers were well on their way.
De Kock's drives through the offside were a joy to watch, while Amla did what he does best, accumulate runs.
There were a couple of chances that went begging, however, with De Kock lucky not to be caught out in the deep, as the ball fell just short, while Amla off the very next delivery of Mohit Sharma saw a leading edge fall an inch ahead of Rohit Sharma at cover.
The talent has been precocious, it was just a matter of De Kock feeling like he belongs in the highest level of cricket, and going by the way he dismantled the Indian bowlers, the left-hander, who will turn 21 in a couple of weeks' time, is going to be around for a while.
It was quite uncomplicated, elegant batting at its best, picking the loose deliveries and dispatching them with disdain to the boundary.
Amla showed his hitting power at times at the other end, a six smashing the electronic scoreboard to punctuate the ability the right-hander has in spades; however, it was still not the right-hander at his fluent best, and a little after reaching his half-century, he fell.
Looking to run the ball down to third man off Mohammed Shami (three for 68), India's most impressive bowler, Amla (65, 88b, 5x4, 1x6) did not make enough of a connection with the ball deciding to disturb the timber and five the away side their first wicket after 152 runs and 177 deliveries.
Jacques Kallis came in and looked in good touch, tonking a boundary through the offside, but was dismissed soon after by Shami yet again, as the fast bowler induced a false drive with Ravindra Jadeja taking the catch at cover.
South Africa skipper was at his brutal best against India in the first ODI. Reuters
That was pretty much all the joy Jadeja and his spinning companion R Ashwin had however, as the pitch, not even remotely aiding the slow bowlers, rendered them mere spectators as De Kock, and then later, AB De Villiers glided, caressed and smashed the ball to all sides of the Wanderers.
De Kock neared his hundred with a six off a free hit, before tucking one down to square-leg to complete his second ODI century.
With De Villiers at the other end, both South African batsmen looked to crank the run rate up in the final 15 overs as India, playing with the same XI that beat the West Indies in the final ODI in Kanpur last week, struggled to keep the scoring down.
Dhoni, not left with much options as the spinners kept getting hit, took a chance with Virat Kohli, and the right-armer struck with his slow-medium, latching onto a catch off his own bowling to dismiss De Kock, who had just grabbed another six for himself - the left hander falling after an outstanding 135 (121b, 18x4, 3x6).
With De Kock gone, it was time for skipper De Villiers to go slam-bang, and the irrepressible right-hander did just that, as the bowlers kept bowling length, with Duminy giving him brilliant company at the other end as South Africa went a little run-crazy towards the end - 100 runs coming in the final six overs.
The total was well beyond India's reach, and the visitors will need to do some serious soul-searching with bat and ball before the second ODI on Sunday.
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