Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq led from the front as his team chased down a target of 235 with eight balls to spare for a three-wicket victory at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead to level the five-match Momentum ODI series at 2-2 on Thursday.
The decider will be played at Sahara Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Sunday.
On a day of high drama Mohammad Irfan set the tone with two wickets with the first two balls of the day. The giant seamer had Hashim Amla caught behind and then bowled Colin Ingram with a perfect yorker.
Graeme Smith (12) battled hard to restore some calm but was bowled around his legs by Junaid Khan in the 10th over and Farhaan Behardien (1) inside-edged the final ball of the over to leave the Castle Lager Proteas struggling on 38-4.
Captain AB de Villiers and David Miller added 115 for the fifth wicket to put the innings back on track for a ‘par’ score of around 260 but they were dismissed within four overs of each other, leaving the lower order to scrap for whatever runs they could gather.
De Villiers’ 75 came from 108 balls with five fours and his disappointment at being given out, caught behind sweeping Saeed Ajmal, seemed understandable when ‘Hotspot’ revealed no contact.
Miller’s 67 came from just 77 deliveries and contained seven fours.
Irfan clean bowled Rory Kleinveldt in his second spell to finish with 3-46 and there were three-wicket hauls for Junaid Khan (3-45) and the excellent Saeed Ajmal (3-42) as well.
Pakistan crashed to a similar predicament as South Africa at the beginning of their innings beginning with the dismissal of opener Mohammad Hafeez for “obstructing the field”.
When AB de Villiers lined up a throw at the non-striker’s end as the batsmen crossed for a second run, Hafeez altered his running line in an apparent attempt to protect his stumps. South Africa appealed and third umpire Billy Bowden took barely a minute to give the batsman out.
Kamran Akmal (11) was brilliantly caught by Miller off Lonwabo Tsotsobe at backward point and, when Younis Khan was bowled off an inside edge by Kleinveldt, the tourists were 33-3.
But Misbah found a reliable ally in opener Imran Farhat and a fourth wicket stand of 153 laid the foundation for a victory far more comfortable than a late wobble made it look.
Farhat was virtually shotless for the first half of his innings but eventually fell for 93 from 144 balls while Misbah’s 80 from 93 balls earned him the man-of-the-match award.