South Africa had their banker, Hashim Amla, to thank as his 47 not out lifted them to 77 for five in their nine overs. England were in the fifth over of their chase, and were already two down with just 29 runs on the board, when the rain intensified to such an extent that the umpires had to abandon play.
The visitors were asked to bat first after losing the toss and Amla, opening the batting, adapted straight away to the shortest format of the game.
Rain as soon as the players were in place caused a two-and-a-half hour delay and reduced the match to nine overs a side, and there was some surprise that Amla still opened the batting. But thank goodness he did as there was a steady procession of batsmen coming in and going straight out at the other end.
Richard Levi (0), AB de Villiers (1) and Albie Morkel (3) all fell to limp attacking strokes as South Africa slipped to 37 for three in the fifth over.
Steven Finn began the rot with the first delivery, getting pace and bounce from a terrific pitch and just brushing Levi’s gloves on the way through to wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter.
De Villiers then popped up an attempted pull off Finn in his next over, Jade Dernbach taking a juggling catch running back from deep mid-on.
Morkel fell to the medium-pace of Luke Wright, but Amla was a revelation, his incredible ability to plunder runs in any format being proven again as he hammered 47 not out off 30 balls, with seven fours.
England failed to police the area behind square on the off side well enough as Amla found the gaps there with precise placement, wonderful timing and occasionally brute force.
JP Duminy (5) and Justin Ontong (1) fell cheaply in the sixth and seventh overs, finally bringing Jacques Kallis to the crease. South Africa’s greatest batsman said what he needed to say about his demotion with the bat, scoring 13 not out off seven balls, with two fours.
Dernbach bowled two top-class overs at the death, taking one for 12, while off-spinner Graeme Swann was a handful with 1-11 in two overs. Wright bowled a valuable single over for four runs and the crucial wicket of Morkel, while Finn was a menace with the new ball, taking 2-17 in his pair of overs.
But Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn are the top new-ball pair in world cricket and they soon had England under pressure in their reply.
Morkel bowled two superb overs up front for just eight runs, while Steyn removed Kieswetter for one as the wicketkeeper/batsman tried a pull/drive on the up and could only send a catch steepling practically as high as the floodlights, Robin Peterson taking a truly fine catch, diving at the last instant, at deep mid-on.
Wright (14) top-edged a hook off Albie Morkel to his brother Morne, who took a good catch running around from fine leg, but that also proved to be the end of the match as the rain, which had been falling for the entire innings, intensified.
South Africa, more than a dozen runs ahead on Duckworth/Lewis at that stage, were just five balls away from a completed match and they deserve full marks for their outstanding bowling and fielding in slippery conditions with a sodden ball.