Jacques Kallis guided South Africa to a seven-wicket win over defending ICC World Twenty20 champions England in the first Twenty20 International at Chester-le-Street on Saturday (September 8).
South Africa were in trouble at 29 for three, chasing a seemingly modest 119 for victory. But Kallis, opening the batting on his return to international duty after being rested for the drawn One-Day International series between the two countries, made 48 not out in 44 balls with seven fours.
Together with Jean-Paul Duminy (47 not out) he shared an unbroken stand of 90 in 91 deliveries as the South Africans, who won with an over to spare, went 1-0 up in a three-match series ahead of this month's ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.
South Africa had Richard Levi, the hard-hitting opener, caught in the slips off Jade Dernbach and T20I debutant Faf du Plessis leg before to Steven Finn.
De Villiers, who helped Hashim Amla add 172 in South Africa's seven-wicket win in the fifth ODI at Trent Bridge on Wednesday (September 5), which squared that series at 2-2, was then caught behind by Craig Kieswetter off Dernbach for 10.
South Africa were now 29 for three and England, all but out of the contest at the break, were now very in the game.
But it was clear that if South Africa produced one decent partnership they would win and in Kallis and Duminy they had the men for the job in the absence of the rested Amla.
Stuart Broad, rested from the ODIs like Kallis, brought back Finn in a bid to break the stand but to no avail.
Ultimately England's 118 for seven - their third lowest total in this format - did not give their bowlers enough of a score to defend.
Earlier, spin bowling, long regarded as the South Africans' weakness, accounted for four England wickets with Johan Botha (2 for 19) and Robin Peterson (2 for 27), striking after de Villiers won the toss. Elsewhere, Dale Steyn took 1 for 13 in his maximum four overs.
At 85 for 7, England were in danger of collapsing completely before an unbroken stand of 33 in 27 balls between Broad and Graeme Swann, who both finished on 18 not out, gave them a foothold in the match.
No England batsman made more than Kieswetter's 25.
The series continues in Manchester on Monday (September 10).