This was the first time in seven attempts that Pakistan had won an ODI at this venue and came on top of their six-run victory in the second T20 International at the same venue on Friday evening.
The match was a remarkable triumph for the two Pakistan debutants, Bilawal Bhati and Anwar Ali, who rescued their side from a disastrous start after they had won the toss and enabled them to set a target which they were able to defend as the surface got progressively lower and slower.
Anwar went on to claim Jacques Kallis as his maiden ODI wicket while Bilawal cleaned up the South African tail in spectacular fashion to finish with 3/37.
The match also marked the return of Kallis to ODI action after some 21 months on the sidelines and he did not disappoint with his side’s top score as well as two wickets and a catch. He would nevertheless have been disappointed not to see his side home once he was well set.
At one stage it looked as though Pakistan would be bowled out inside 40 overs after they lost seven wickets for 131 runs in 35.5 overs against the quartet of South African seamers. The only partnership of note had been the 49 for the first wicket between Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shahzad with wickets thereafter falling at regular intervals.
Dale Steyn broke the opening partnership in an inspiring second spell that read 3-1-5-2.
The other seamers all chipped in. Vernon Philander was bowled out by the end of the 34th over but the Proteas still looked as though they had plenty of bowling in reserve, particularly as the batting power play, taken between the 35th and 40th overs, only produced 20 runs.
But Bilawal and Anwar produced a stunning counter-attack in the final 10 overs, enabling the visitors to score 73 runs during that period. Bilawal finally fell to Morné Morkel in the 48th over for an excellent innings of 39 off 25 balls with three fours and two sixes but Anwar stayed to the end, finishing unbeaten on 43 off 55 balls with six fours.
Their partnership of 74 in 11.4 overs was far and away the best of the match.
It has to be said that the Proteas fielding was way below the standard they normally set for themselves.
The Pakistan total of 218 did not appear to be particularly daunting although the Proteas also struggled to put decent partnerships together in spite of the normal assured batting performance from Kallis who did not look as though he had had precious time in the middle.
He took an over or two to sum the conditions up but then looked like cutting loose as he hit three successive boundaries off Junaid Khan and then pulled Mohammed Hafeez powerfully to deep midwicket for six. His half-century came off 70 balls with five fours and a six and it came as a major surprise, not least to the player himself, when he was bowled by Anwar off a bottom inside edge.
Kallis nevertheless confirmed that he is back to business as usual with his half-century being backed up by two wickets and a sharp slip catch.
It was a memorable debut ODI wicket for Anwar and one that he will undoubtedly saviour. Bilawal had earlier captured his maiden ODI wicket and again it was an important one as he beat Quinton de Kock for pace and knocked the left-hander’s stumps over. The speed gun timed the delivery at 147.7 kph which probably made it the fastest delivery of the day.
Kallis’ departure followed quickly by that of David Miller with the total on 123/6 and 96 runs still required off 122 balls left JP Duminy alone to do what he could do with the specialist bowlers in spite of the fact that the Proteas had opted for seven specialist batsmen.
This meant that Ryan McLaren, the most successful bowler for the Proteas in this format this year, had to be left out once the selectors decided to see what Philander could do. The bowling, in fact, turned out to be more than adequate with Steyn, Morkel and Philander taking seven wickets between them for 109 runs in their maximum quota of 30 overs.
Kallis had an expensive second spell to finish with 2/53 in eight overs which was to be expected with his lack of bowling time in the middle.
Lonwabo Tsotsobe also could not be considered as he has not made a complete recovery from tonsillitis.
The Proteas target came down to a run a ball in the last 10 overs with 62 runs and only three wickets intact with Steyn, Morkel and Imran Tahir left to support the one established batsman.
Duminy finally fell for 49 off 70 balls with four fours to put the end in sight. Steyn and Morkel struck out boldly and it came down to 24 off the last two overs with the last pair at the crease.
The Pakistan spinners again played a huge role with Hafeez taking 1/34 in 10, Shahid Afridi 1/34 in 7 and Saeed Ajmal 2/28 from his 10.Teams:
South Africa: Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers (captain), JP Duminy, David Miller, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir.
Pakistan: Ahmed Shehzad, Nasir Jamshed, Mohammad Hafeez, Sohaib Maqsood, Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Bilawal Bhatti, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan, Anwar Ali.