Barring a valiant 96 by Rahane, the Indian batting caved in again, giving South Africa a 58-run target and losing the series 1-0.
India were left to rue the chances they missed as South Africa won the second and final Test in Durban convincingly by ten wickets, sealing the series 1-0 and giving a perfect send-off to Jacques Kallis who represented his country for one last time in Tests.
Barring a valiant 96 by Ajinkya Rahane, the Indian batting caved in for the second time in the match, getting all out for just 223, giving the hosts just 58 to win the contest, which Graeme Smith (27*) and Alviro Petersen (31*) did with a consummate ease.
Apart from other reasons, India would definitely be ruing two things: First, when their batsmen surrendered meekly against the fiery Dale Steyn on day two and second, the unfathomable decision by MS Dhoni to not take the second new ball till the 146th over of the South African second innings. The loss also left India end their tour, which might have finished on high if they had managed a draw in this match, on a sour note.
India expected weather to play a part in their survival on the fifth and final day in Durban, but they were greeted by clear blue skies at Kingsmead. Steyn once again produced a hostile spell of fast bowling when he sent back India's two leading batsmen, Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara, of the tour inside the first 15 minutes of play.
Steyn was on target from the very first delivery, getting Kohli caught behind to a ball that jumped a fraction from the surface. Kohli was not pleased one bit with the decision as the ball kissed his shoulder and not bat on its way to AB de Villiers. But his wicket provided the hosts the sort of start Graeme Smith would have been hoping for.
It just took Steyn another eleven deliveries to produce another peach, darting one in that hit one of the cracks and moved away a fraction, hitting Pujara's off stump. There were some verbal volleys between Steyn and Rohit Sharma (25), which pumped up the latter, who struck a pull for four off Morkel and a straight six off Robin Peterson. But he did not last long, getting trapped leg before to an incoming delivery from Vernon Philander.
With India down in the dumps, they wanted their skipper, Dhoni (15), to stay long but he once again left cheaply, flicking Peterson tamely to midwicket. Ravindra Jadeja (8) came to the wicket with his own set of ideas. He struck Peterson for a six but holed out in the same over to repeat the stroke.
Rahane was the only batsmen, among those who got the time to get their eye in, who gut it out. He was extremely impressive for his unbeaten 50 in the first innings, taking a few blows from Steyn and, he displayed the same resilience in his second dig as well.
He defended the South African quicks with immense confidence and drove the ball with surety. He scored his second fifty of the match as India went into lunch with a slender lead of 7.
Zaheer Khan showed a lot more desire to stick at the wicket this time around with Rahane, and their stand took India closer towards the 200 mark. But Peterson broke the developing 35-run stand by trapping Zaheer for three. Had DRS being implemented here, Zaheer might have surely gone for it as the ball was missing the stumps on replays. But, like Kohli, he too didn't have any other option than accepting the umpire's decision.
Rahane took the more aggressive approach once Ishant Sharma (1) joined him, playing an array of strokes both on the front and back foot. The harder second new ball came onto the bat little quicker and Rahane pulled Steyn and spanked Philander for two boundaries in two overs.
With Rahane extending India's lead and also inching closer to his hundred, South Africa had to strike back and Steyn had Ishant caught behind to a bouncer. With that, Steyn also became the joint-second fastest, along with Richard Hadlee and after Muttiah Muralitharan, to get to 350 Test wickets.
Unperturbed by the wickets falling at the other end, Rahane pushed for more runs, thumping Philander over the point boundary for a maximum. With just four short of what could be a magnificent maiden hundred, Rahane was castled when he tried to clear the in-field trying.