Temba Bavuma scored a second century for the Proteas in as many games but it was not enough as they fell to a 48-run defeat to West Indies in the second Betway One-Day International (ODI) at Buffalo Park in East London on Saturday.
The South Africa captain, who recorded a career-best 172 in the second Test against the same opponents a few days ago, stood almost man alone with his outstanding career-best 144 (118 balls, 11 fours, 7 sixes).
It was his highest ODI score and also the first time in his career that he managed back-to-back international centuries, but the diminutive right-hander lacked support as the hosts faded away to end their pursuit of a hefty 336 on 287 all out.
That tall total for the tourists was set up by his counterpart Shai Hope scoring an equally impressive unbeaten 128 (115 balls, 5 fours, 7 sixes) that set his side on their way to a 1-0 lead in the series.
Game one of the three-match sequence was abandoned without a ball being bowled in East London due to rain on Thursday and it now means that the best the Proteas can hope for a share of the spoils when they series concludes in Potchefstroom on Tuesday.
Earlier it was the West Indian batter who made merry after Hope won the toss and opted to bat at the Eastern Cape venue, staging international cricket for the first time in over three years.
South Africa did a rare quadruple at the start by fielding four debutants in Gerald Coetzee, Ryan Rickelton, Tony de Zorzi and Tristan Stubbs.
But it was West Indies that flourished during the first half of the game with their entire top order crossing 30, barring Shamarh Brooks who recorded a five-ball duck after being cleaned up by pick-of-the-bowlers Coetzee (3/57).
Brandon King (30) and Kyle Mayers (36) put on 67 for the opening wicket, before both fell to Bjorn Fortuin (2/57) either side of Brooks’ dismissal.
Hope then arrived and together with Nicholas Pooran (39) and Rovman Powell (46), did the bulk of the scoring to lift the islanders to a powerful 335 for eight.
In reply, Bavuma and Quinton de Kock (48) gave their side a flying start thanks to the latter’s three sixes and five fours in 26 balls that put them on 76 for none in the ninth.
Rickelton (14) put on 47 with his captain for the next wicket and De Zorzi (27) added 61 for the third, but three quick wickets altered the direction of the game. When De Zorzi was in, the Proteas were well on track at 184 for two in the 25th over, but they then lost three for 26 – amongst the wickets being Rassie van der Dussen (8) and Tristan Stubbs (6) to suddenly slip to 210 for five.
Marco Jansen (17) and Bjorn Fortuin (1) fell in the same 33rd over sent down by Akeal Hosein (3/59), and despite the valiant efforts of Bavuma, who beat his previous best of 113 against Ireland on debut in 2016, the home side faded away to be bowled out in 41.4 overs.