Until then, chasing 290 originally, Hashim Amla (33) and Aiden Markram (22) had given an attacking start.
"We have the unbeaten record but it will speak for nothing on the day as we have to come out and do the business". India had motored to 166 for 1 in 27 overs, when the combination of Ngidi and Duminy applied the brakes on the scoring. Dhawan has scored two half centuries, but the rest of the batting lineup, barring Sharma, has either not received a chance to bat, or have not performed when they have. That turned out to be the turning point as the match quickly turned on its head.
In their reply South Africa lost big-hitter Lizelle Lee (10) early but Laura Wolvaardt and Andrie Steyn (30) settled things down before the latter was caught and bowled by Poonam Yadav.
But then Shreyas Iyer dropped David Miller on 6 and shortly after in the same over the risky left-hander got another reprieve as he was bowled by Yuzvendra Chahal off a no-ball. "We can't lose the series so that is a huge boost for the team", said Kohli.
While the spinners were being smacked all over the park, with Kuldeep taking 2 for 51 in his full quota of six overs, and Chahal returning 1 for 68 in 5.3 overs, in a unusual bit of captaincy, Virat Kohli left three of his pacers' overs unused, with Jasprit Bumrah having 1 for 21 in five overs and Bhuvneshwar Kumar giving up 27 runs in four overs. How much of a difference will it really make though? He unleashed a plethora of inventive shots, including the switch hit and chased umpteen wide deliveries, hitting them in an unorthodox manner to garner more boundaries.
South Africa, who had beaten India in the World Cup previous year, have not been able to compete with the sub-continental side in their own backyard. Suddenly, two new batsmen were at the crease: Shreyas Iyer, playing his first innings on this tour and MS Dhoni, who needs time early in his innings to be properly destructive.
Dhawan made 109, celebrating his 100th ODI with a 13th career century. The first came when India, having won the toss, were in complete control, reaching 200/2 in 34.2 overs. We have one forced change.
South Africa have also taken an active stance in promoting Breast Cancer.
India's success in the series is largely down to 3-4 players.
The saviour of India was old war-horse, Dhoni, who remained unbeaten at 42.
Markram dismissed Pandya with a one-handed stunning catch at cover off Rabada as India slipped further in their pursuit of 300.