Lasith Malinga proved too good for South Africa at the death as Sri Lanka opened their ICC World Twenty20 campaign with a five-run victory in Chittagong.
The paceman kept his cool when 15 were needed off the last over while the Proteas rather lost theirs, the run outs of Dale Steyn and, crucially, David Miller leaving the tail with too much to do.
Imran Tahir, who had earlier performed superbly in his role with the ball, did manage to hit the final ball of the match for six, but Sri Lanka's total of 165-7 proved to be just enough.
Kusal Perera made 61 at the top of their order, including taking 17 off an eventful opening over from Steyn that climaxed with Tillakartne Dilshan being bowled for a first-ball duck.
Veteran duo Mahela Jayawardene (nine) and Kumar Sangakkara (14) both struggled to get going, the latter becoming one of three wickets for Tahir when he top-edged a slog sweep to Lonwabo Tsotsobe at short fine leg.
The leg-spinner, who finished with 3-26 from his four overs, also removed Perera, though not before he had hit three sixes and six fours to register his fifth half-century in the shortest format of the game.
Captain Dinesh Chandimal (12) and Thisara Perera (eight) perished in the closing stages, but Angelo Mathews made sure they set a competitive total with 43 from 32 deliveries.
South Africa's reply started promisingly enough, Quinton de Kock dominating an opening stand of 32 as he made 25 in a hurry.
Batting partner Hashim Amla was much more sedate, eating up 26 deliveries to make 23 until he was caught off spinner Sachithra Senanayake (2-22).
Still, JP Duminy (39) and AB de Villiers, who made 24 off 16, kept their team afloat and although his stay in the middle was short, Albie Morkel hit two off the four balls he faced for six to leave the equation at 29 from the last three overs.
Malinga ended up going for 10 off the next, yet Nuwan Kulasekara rewarded his captain's faith by conceding just four from the 19th, as well as picking up the wicket of Farhaan Behardien when he holed out for five.
Once Miller was run out trying to retain the strike with four balls remaining Sri Lanka could relax, meaning they maintain their record of never losing a Twenty20 International when managing to post a target of 160 or more.