Indian bowlers set-up a 35-run win over the South Africans to level the series 2-2 after being powered by a sorely-needed century by Virat Kohli.
Batting at No 3, Kohli's blitzing 138 featured century partnerships with Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina to post a daunting 299 total, after both openers--Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan--went out cheaply.
Proteas skipper AB de Villiers made a sterling 112, with pundits actually agreeing that in quality and resolve it exceeded Kohli's, who was crowned Man of the Match. The fifth and series decider ODI will be played at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday, October 25.
However 299 almost turned out insufficient for India. When de Villiers marked his guard again for the start of the 19th over, it was after a collapse of three wickets for the addition of 21 runs, starting with the dismissal of Quinton de Kock for 43, of which 41 had come in 30 balls against India's two pace bowlers. Some crafty spin from Harbhajan Singh, Axar Patel and Amit Mishra had stemmed the run rate and produced wickets.
Despite having some nervous moments against the sharp turn of Amit Mishra, de Villiers backed himself to play some outrageous shots against the spinners and until he was around victory was never a certainty for India even when the asking rate had crossed 10 an over. Farhaan Behardien made 22 before missing a sweep against Mishra, yet this had little bearing on de Villiers who clattered five fours in the space of seven balls.
When Chris Morris was run out by Rahane, South Africa needed 115 from 71 balls and de Villiers had only the bowlers to bat with. Despite suffering cramps in the humidity, the South African skipper breezed to his century with a six off Mishra and it was only when he fell to Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the 45th over, swatting at a short ball, that India could exhale.
Cramping at the end of his 140-ball knock, laced with 6 fours and 5 sixes, Kohli said he was happy to score his 23rd ODI ton in a winning cause.
" It always feels good when you get a century and the team wins and while chasing I like it because you get a chance to finish the game. Any century in a winning cause is always special," said the Test skipper.
Kohli also praised De Villiers 112-run knock that made him uneasy in the dressing room, "I told him (de Villiers) in the dressing room... my heart was in my mouth when he was batting, he plays unbelievable shots. He's a very modest man too, never praises himself so I'll do that for him. The credit goes to him, he fought it out".
It was a mutual admiration society as De Villiers also praised Kohli for his match-winning knock.
"It was a pretty tough wicket to play on and Virat assessed the conditions very well early on. The ball was turning quite a bit and I got a few away at the end, I worked hard and hopefully we'll take some positives to Mumbai," said De Villiers.
The Chepauk stadium in Chennai is generally auspicious for India. Mahendra Singh Dhoni enjoys enormous popularity in Chennai due to his exploits with the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the IPL as does Suresh Raina, However South Africa's Faf du Plessis and Chris Morris, have both been associated with the CSK.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and opted to bat first against a weakened South African side that lacked fiery pace nemesis Morne Morkel, who had a sore leg during the last Rajkot one day match. JP Duminy, who suffered a hand injury in Rajkot after trying to stop a bludgeoning straight drive from MS Dhoni, has been ruled out of the entire series.
India were trailing the series 1-2 and as of afternoon South Africa was on the cusp of their first bilateral ODI series win in India.
(With inputs from PTI)