Durban:An inspired India pulled off a magnificent 37-run victory to storm into the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup on Thursday.
Needing 126 to make it to the semis, hosts South Africa only managed to score 116 for nine in 20 overs as they were knocked out of their own party.
Rohit Sharma, who was the top scorer for India, was named Man of the Match. RP Singh with his match figures of (4-0-13-4) was the pick of the bowlers for India.
Earlier, after a somewhat wayward first over by Sreesanth, RP Singh was bang on target on his first delivery to trap Hershelle Gibbs plumb in front for one run to give India a vital breakthrough.
Two balls later, Dinesh Karthik held on to a stunner of a catch in the slips off RP as Graeme Smith walked back to the dugout for four runs and gave India a realistic chance of defending the total.
Sreesanth was quick to make amends for his expensive first over as he clipped AB de Villiers for one run on the third delivery of his second over.
Mark Boucher, who was in earlier than normal after the South African slide, tried to keep the scoreboard ticking along with Justin Kemp before a sensational piece of fielding from Rohit Sharma in the covers resulted in Kemp's run out. He scored 5 runs.
One ball later, RP bowled a cracker of a delivery to uproot Shaun Pollock's stumps for a duck to send the South African chase into a tailspin and bring out ecstatic reactions from his teammates. The Proteas were tottering at 31 for five in 5.5 overs.
Boucher then partnered Albie Morkel to stem the rot and revive South Africa with a 69-run stand. The partnership looked threatening for India and just when it looked that the duo was running away with the game Sreesanth removed Boucher for 36.
Rohit Sharma impresses
Earlier, Sharma's timely half century helped India score 153 for five after electing to bat in their do or die encounter.
Indian openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir could not get the fireworks cracking as against England and just scored 32 runs for the first wicket before the latter was sent back by Shaun Pollock in the fifth over for 19 runs.
One ball later, Pollock scalped Karthik for a duck to leave India jolted at 33 for two in five overs.
Makhaya Ntini could not have stayed far behind and he struck on the first delivery of his next over to dismiss Sehwag for 11 runs reducing India to tatters with the scoreboard reading 33 for three in 5.1 overs.
After India lost three wickets in a span of four deliveries, Robin Uthappa and Rohit Sharma put up a brief 28-run stand before Uthappa was out for 15 in an attempt to take the aeriel route.
After a terrible top-order slump, skipper MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma put up a 85-run stand to revive India. The stepped up the gear and scored at an average of eights runs per over to give some respectability to the Indian total.
Dhoni scored 45 off 33 deliveries with the help of four boundaries and one six before he was run out tryibg to sneak a two runs in the last over.
Karthik had replaced Yuvraj Singh who was ruled out of the match with tendonitis of the left elbow.
India: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Harbhajan Singh, Joginder Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth, RP Singh.
South Africa: Graeme Smith, Hershelle Gibbs, AB de Villiers, Justin Kemp, Mark Boucher, Shaun Pollock, Vernon Philander, Albie Morkel, Johan van der Wath, Morne Morkel, Makhaya Ntini.