India's formidable batting line-up was a letdown once again as they were handed an embarrassing 0-3 whitewash by a South African team in transition after falling four runs short in the third and final ODI in Cape Town on Sunday.
Despite half centuries by Virat Kohli (65 off 83 balls), Shikhar Dhawan (61 off 73 balls) and Deepak Chahar (54 off 34 balls), India were on the losing side for a third straight time, this time in pursuit of 288, ending a disastrous tour of the 'Rainbow Nation'.
Asked to take first strike, South Africa were all out for 287 after Quinton de Kock's attacking hundred and Rassie van der Dussen's fluent half-century. In reply, India were all out for 283 in 49.2 overs, completely mis-handling a chase that should have been completed smoothly.
Having taken two wickets with the ball, Chahar blazed away with the bat and hit five fours and two sixes, but his effort was not enough in the end.
All in all, the limited overs series turned out to be one of the most disappointing outings for India in recent years, especially after having blanked the Proteas in their backyard in 2018.
They began the tour on a rousing note, winning the opening Test by 113 runs but lost the plot thereafter, failing miserably to challenge the South Africans. It was especially for KL Rahul, who lost all four matches he captained during the tour (one Test and three ODIs).
Looking to restore some pride in their last match of the tour, India overhauled their playing XI by making as many as four changes, bringing in Suryakumar Yadav, Jayant Yadav, Deepak Chahar and Prasidh Krishna.
The ones to miss out were Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Venkatesh Iyer and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
The changes did not bring about a change in India's fortunes as Suryakumar was dismissed for 39 off 32 balls.
India were last clean swept in an away ODI series by New Zealand (0-3) in 2020 under Kohli.
Incidentally, Rohit Sharma was absent from that series too, with a hamstring injury.
On Sunday, Kohli made a 65 off 84 balls, while opener Shikhar Dhawan struck a 73-ball 61, both scoring their second fifties of the three-match series.
And it should have been India's game as it seemed for a good part but the side simply bungled it in the closing stages despite being well ahead on the asking rate thanks to Chahar's blitzkrieg.
Earlier, India rallied to bowl out South Africa under 300 after de Kock and van der Dussen's blazing knocks.
De Kock struck 124 off 130 balls and added 144 runs for the fourth wicket with van der Dussen before India put the brakes on the home team's scoring by sending back both the batters in quick succession.
After that, David Miller contributed a 38-ball 39 before the innings ended with a ball to spare.
With his sixth ODI century, de Kock equalled AB de Villiers' record of scoring the most hundreds against India by a South African.
KL Rahul's decision to bowl first worked straightaway as Deepak Chahar (2/53) had opener Janneman Malan (1) caught behind with just eight runs on the board at the start of the third over.
It was a big wicket for the Indians as Malan came into the inconsequential final ODI on the back of a neat 91-run knock in the Proteas' series-clinching second ODI win at Paarl.
And credit for that must go to Chahar who got his fullish delivery to move away after angling it in, leaving Malan clueless.
A direct hit from India skipper KL Rahul from mid-off, ended his in-form counterpart Temba Bavuma's brief stay in the middle as the batter failed to reach the non-striker's end in time.
Bavuma making his way back to the dressing room for eight runs was another big break for India as the South Africa captain had scored a century in the opening fixture and also looked solid in the second outing.
After bagging two wickets in the powerplay, India seemed to be headed in the right direction when Aiden Markram's attempted pull shot failed to clear substitute fielder Ruturaj Gaikwad in the deep square leg region, leaving the hosts at 70 for three in the 13th over.
However, the duo of De Kock and Van der Dussen got together and forged an excellent partnership, mixing caution with aggression to deflate the Indian bowling attack.
De Kock moved into the 90s with two boundaries and then produced a flat-batted six straight over Prasidh Krishna's (3/59) head.
But he got stuck on 99 for a while before finally getting to the three-figure mark by driving Shreyas Iyer to the left of sweeper cover for two runs.
Van der Dussen hit Yuzvendra Chahal through mid-wicket for four, as the two upped the ante with their vast range of strokes on all sides of the wicket.
But just when it looked like the two batters were taking the game away form India, the visitors got rid of both of them.
De Kock got out to a Jasprit Bumrah (2/52) short ball, giving Shikhar Dhawan a simple catch at deep square leg, and then, Chahal had van der Dussen brilliant caught by Iyer in the deep.