The West Indies, who had to win this match to go through to the last four, were exactly level on the Duckworth/Lewis system for rain-affected matches at 190 for six off 26.1 overs.
But Australian umpires Rod Tucker and Steve Davis then decided the rain was too heavy to continue and took the players off the field for the final time at 7.43pm local time.
Crucially, off what turned out to be the last ball of the match, with West Indies then ahead of their D/L target, Kieron Pollard was caught for 28 by Dale Steyn at third man off Ryan McLaren and his exit swung the match back to parity.
For South Africa, whose habit of finding some bizarre ways to exit major one-day tournaments led them to be dubbed “chokers” there was relief that, unlike the 1999 and 2003 World Cups, this time a tie did not see them eliminated.
“I was aware we were behind as the Duckworth-Lewis score was on the scoreboard the whole time, which made it easy for us to follow and plan,” said de Villiers.
“At that time as it had been raining for half an hour, so it was difficult to know when the umpires were going to call it,” the wicketkeeper-batsman added.