Once AB de Villiers won the toss and invited India to bat, the equation for MS Dhoni’s men was clear- put the runs on the board and beat South Africa by 31 runs to edge out Pakistan and qualify for the semi-finals.And yet, the multi-millionaire superstars came a cropper when it mattered the most, bowing out in the Super Eights stage of the third successive World Twenty20 since the launch of the Indian Premier League.They managed to put up just 152 for six in their 20 overs, before the Proteas, playing for nothing but pride, knocked India out when Robin Peterson edged a Lakshmipathy Balaji bouncer to fine leg for a single, to take their score past 121.The run was greeted with the loudest of cheers by the Pakistani fans sitting at the ground since afternoon, and thousands of crescent and star flags were waved in every stand.Some late hitting meant India won the match by just one run, with one ball remaining.Every captain’s term has a shelf-life, and after five years at the helm, Dhoni’s seems to have come to its end.The entire match was littered with his mistakes, right from playing just one specialist spinner in R Ashwin, to bringing him into the attack as late as the 10th over.Dhoni overbowled Irfan Pathan inside the Powerplay, and his third over- the sixth the innings- went for 14.The eighth over was then handed to Rohit Sharma, who got whacked for 13 runs, including a six, as South Africa reached 63 for three.advertisementIronically, it was Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings teammate Faf du Plessis, playing his second match of the tournament, who was the destroyer-in-chief.He cracked an excellent 38-ball 65 (6×4, 2×6), despite being under pressure when the Proteas had lost Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and skipper AB de Villiers early.As the runs kept mounting, there was a distinct lethargy in the Indians’ body language that reflected in their fielding too, and it was clear that mentally, they had said goodbye to the trophy they had won in the inaugural edition in 2007.That India had so little to defend was down to the top- five batsmens collective failure, with a bit of help from some mind-boggling decision-making by Dhoni.Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag had got off to a steady, if unspectacular start, when in the fourth over, the left-hander fell to his commonest dismissal- bowled off the inside edge by a pacy Morne Morkel delivery.For only the second time in the tournament, Virat Kohli(2) failed, tickling a rising one down the leg side from Kallis, only for de Villiers to complete a terrific catch.Sehwag came down the track to smack Peterson for a six over long-on, but for the umpteenth time in his career, followed it up with an irresponsible charge, missing the slower arm ball and getting bowled.At 36 for three in six overs, it was clear that India’s dreams of a huge score were going down the drain.And yet Dhoni, perhaps India’s best player of spin, held himself back and sent Yuvraj Singh, who has always been suspect early on against the slow stuff, at No. 5 to join Rohit.Yuvraj did slam a couple of sixes but Morkel bowled him with a near-perfect slower ball to leave India at 68 for four after 10 overs.Rohit, at the other end, gave another example of why he is a frustrating waste of talent, perishing to an across-the-line sweep off Peterson for a 27-ball 25. After 105 international innings, 80 in ODIs and 35 in T20s, his batting averages have barely crossed 30.It was Suresh Raina(45, 34 balls, 5×4) who fuelled India’s fire again, and Dhoni, from No. 7, struck three boundaries in a 13-ball 23 that helped them cross 150. But at the end of the day, nothing could stop India from being humbled yet again.