Suresh Raina hit his maiden century in Twenty20 internationals to guide India to a comfortable 14-run victory over South Africa in the ICC World Twenty20, in St Lucia, on Sunday.
The 23-year-old played a splendid knock of 101 from 60 balls to guide India to a mammoth 186 for five in their 20 overs.
In reply, South Africa struggled against the Indian spinners and finished with 172 for five.
Jacques Kallis top-scored with a quick 73 from 54 balls, while Graeme Smith made 36 from 28, as South Africa's innings lost momentum in the middle overs against the Indian slow bowlers.
Raina brought up the three-figure mark in style, when he carted Albie Morkel over midwicket for a six to become only the third batsman in international cricket to score a century in Twenty20 cricket, after Chris Gayle (117) and Brendon McCullum (116*).
Yuvraj Singh also came good with the bat, scoring a brisk 37 from 30 balls; he added 88 runs off 62 balls for the third wicket with Raina.
India ended their group assignments with two victories, having beaten Afghanistan by seven wickets in their first match, to qualify for the Super Eights as the top team from Group C.
South Africa missed an easy opportunity to claim an early wicket. Dinesh Karthik and Murali Vijay found themselves at the same end after a huge misunderstanding while attempting a quick run. But AB de Villiers, fielding at point, went for a direct hit, missed the stumps, and with no fielder backing up, the two openers got a reprieve and three runs.
However, a wicket came off the very next delivery. Pacer Rory Kleinveldt struck in the first over when Vijay was caught behind off the outside edge for a first ball duck.
Karthik got the first boundary of the innings when he cut a short delivery from Morne Morkel over the point fielder, in the third over.
South Africa rotated their pacers, the first four overs being bowled by four different bowlers, as India reached 21 for one.
Suresh Raina was caught at mid-off as he tried to hit Morne Morkel down the ground, but, luckily for him, the bowler was no-balled for overstepping the bowling crease.
Karthik failed to make an impression before holing out Kallis to the fielder at mid-on after scoring 16 from 17 balls as India were reduced to 36 for two after six overs.
Yuvraj Singh started off cautiously before he slog swept left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe for the first six of the match, in the ninth over.
Raina also joined the party, hitting Kallis straight down the ground for his first six to take the total to 67 for two after ten overs.
The duo then decided to lift the scoring rate and Raina hit Albie Morkel for a four, while Yuvraj flicked him over the leg side for his second six.
After a poor IPL, Yuvraj seemed to have found his range. He announced himself with a thumping pull shot off Kallis for a boundary followed by another one over the cover region off Steyn in the next over.
Yuvraj flicked Kallis through the leg side for a boundary to take India past the 100-run mark in the 14th over. After a slow start, they were finally getting a move on as the second fifty of the innings came from 28 balls in contrast to the first one that took 52 deliveries.
Raina completed a well-deserved half-century from 42 balls with a single off Steyn in the 15th over. The left-hander then hit a full delivery from Steyn through point for a boundary and followed it with a huge six over square leg off Kleinveldt in the next over.
Yuvraj made a brisk 37 from 30 balls before he lofted a full toss from Kleinveldt on the leg side and was taken at mid-on by Graeme Smith. The two left-handers brought India back in the contest as they added 88 runs in 62 balls for the third wicket.
Raina kept finding the boundaries at regular intervals. He pulled a short delivery from Kleinveldt over midwicket for a six to take the total to 126 for three after 16 overs.
Kleinveldt's inexperience showed when he was taken to the cleaners in his final over, giving away 25 runs in that over. Yusuf Pathan started the over with a flick over midwicket for six before Raina took over.
The left-hander hit him for three boundaries in a row before slamming the final delivery over the long-off fielder for a six to race to 93 from 56 balls. India raced to 161 for three after 18 overs with 35 runs coming from the last two overs.
Kleinveldt gave away just eight in his first two overs but suffered in his second spell, giving away 40 in the next two for horror figures of two for 48 in four overs.
Steyn provided some relief when he claimed the wicket of Pathan, who was caught on the cover boundary for 11 in the penultimate over of the innings.
Raina became the first Indian batsman to score a century in Twenty20 Internationals when he hit Albie Morkel for a six over midwicket. The left-hander took just 59 balls to reach the three-figure mark, becoming only the third batsman to achieve the landmark.
But he perished off the very next delivery when he was caught on the long-on boundary after a splendid innings of 101 from 60 balls, having hit nine boundaries and five sixes.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (16 from 6 balls) hit the final delivery of the innings for a six to take India to a mammoth 186 for five in their 20 overs as they hammered 75 from the last five overs.
As was witnessed in the IPL last month, Harbhajan Singh was given the new ball. The off-spinner nearly picked the wicket of Jacques Kallis, whose thick edge was dropped by Yusuf Pathan, at short thirdman, diving full length to his right.
South Africa were unable to get going in the first few overs as India's bowlers kept a tight line and length.
It was not long before India's good work with the new ball paid off. Loots Bosman tried to break the shackles but was beaten in the flight by Yusuf Pathan and caught in the covers for eight as South Africa were reduced to 25 for one after five overs.
With four spinners in their line-up, Dhoni took no time in getting his slow bowlers into the action. Just 32 runs came from five overs as South Africa struggled to 57 for one at the halfway stage, needing 130 from the last ten overs for victory.
Finally, Smith decided it was time to make a move on. The South African captain slog swept over midwicket for the first six of the innings, in the 11th over. The left-hander repeated the dose on Ravindra Jadeja for yet another maximum as the Proteas looked to lift the tempo after a quiet spell in the middle overs.
Kallis completed his half-century from 45 balls before deciding it was time to cut loose. He went after Harbhajan, hitting him for back-to-back sixes over the leg side to give South Africa some hope as they reached 110 for one after 15 overs.
India had smashed 75 from their last five overs and South Africa needed to repeat something similar as they had to score 77 from the last five overs.
Kallis seemed to have found his range as he continued to clear the boundaries with ease as he lifted Jadeja over long-off for his third six.
However, India struck with an important wicket when Smith was run out for 36 from 28 balls as he was run-out attempting a tight second run.
With the required run-rate climbing with every passing over, AB de Villiers looked to go on the attack right away as he hit Jadeja over midwicket for a six.
Kallis departed in the next over when he hit Chawla straight to the fielder on the long-on boundary. The veteran opener made 73 from 54 balls, having hit three sixes and three fours, but failed to lift the tempo and by the time he decided to change gears it was too late for South Africa.
Villiers was only looking for the boundaries as he smashed Chawla down the ground for his second six to take the total to 136 for three in 17 overs, with 51 needed from the last three overs.
Morkel slammed Pathan over midwicket for a six before the bowler had his revenge by having him caught at covers for 12.
De Villiers tried to wage a lone battle as he hit Pathan for a boundary and six off successive deliveries, but South Africa were still left with 24 needed from the last over for victory. The right-hander fell for a quick 31 from 15 balls when he was brilliantly caught by Chawla on the long-on boundary off Nehra in the final over of the innings.
South Africa finished with 172 for five in their 20 overs and lost by 14 runs.
With two victories in a row, India progressed to the Super Eights as the top team from Group C.
Dhoni's gamble of playing with an extra spinner paid off as South Africa struggled to come to terms on a slow pitch.