Hashim Amla's 47 not out was the cornerstone of South Africa's 77 for five in a floodlit match reduced to nine overs per side when play in this floodlit clash started more than two hours later than scheduled because of rain yesterday.
England, who defend their World Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka later this month, were 29 for two off 4.1 overs when a fresh downpour forced the players from the field for the final time.
A minimum of five overs had to be completed in England's innings for either side to win this match, with the hosts needing to have scored 13 more runs off the five balls remaining in the fifth over to have won under the Duckworth/Lewis method.
South Africa, the world's top-ranked Twenty20 side, remain 1-0 up in this three-match series ahead of Wednesday's finale at Edgbaston. Earlier, after England captain Stuart Broad won the toss, South Africa's Richard Levi fell first ball when a glance off Steven Finn was caught down the legside by wicket-keeper Craig Kieswetter.
Amla, rested from the team that won by seven wickets at Chester-le-Street on Saturday, showed the form that had seen him score a combined 817 runs at over 116 in the preceding Test and one-day series. Jacques Kallis, kept down the order until number seven as South Africa promoted a succession of big-hitters who failed to fire, was the only other Proteas batsman to make it into double figures with 13 not out.
Amla, off the mark with a four, struck three more boundaries in Finn's second and final over. England, not for the first time this season, dropped Amla when, on 31, he skyed Graeme Swann only for Eoin Morgan, at mid-wicket, to spill the chance.
But next ball off-spinner Swann held a steepling catch off his own bowling to dismiss JP Duminy as he took one for 11 in two overs. In reply, England were three for one when Kieswetter was brilliantly caught by a diving Robin Peterson after skying Dale Steyn.
Luke Wright, in after England dropped Ravi Bopara, made 14 before he hooked a bouncer from Albie Morkel, his only ball of the match, to the bowler's brother Morne at deep backward square leg.