Pakistan defeated South Africa in comprehensive fashion during the fourth ODI of the five-match series at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg to level the series at two apiece.
Chasing a modest target of 165 runs, the Men in Green reached home with eight wickets and 111 balls to spare.
Openers Imamul Haq and Fakhar Zaman provided the perfect platform with a 70-run opening stand. The latter was dismissed after playing run-a-ball 44 run innings.
Imam backed up the hundred he scored in the previous match with the fifth half-century of his career — ensuring that there were no jitters in a relatively easy chase. The left-hander was dismissed trying to end the run chase with a flourish by dancing down the track to a delivery from Andile Phehlukwayo, after scoring 71 runs.
After Zaman’s departure, Imam was joined by right-handed batsman Babar Azam as the duo made sure that Pakistan chased down the target with a minimum of fuss. Azam remained unbeaten on 41 runs.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan — who was slotted in the side in place of Sarfraz — played the winning shot, on what was the only ball he faced during the innings.
Earlier the visitors shrugged off the loss of captain and wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfraz Ahmed to suspension as left-arm fast bowler Usman Shinwari took four wickets in six balls helping his side dismiss South Africa for just 164.
Ahmed is returning immediately to Pakistan after being suspended for four games by the ICC for making racist remarks about the Proteas’ Andile Phehlukwayo during last week’s ODI in Durban.
Stand-in skipper Shoaib Malik handled his bowlers and fielders astutely and South Africa were kept under pressure almost from the time Malik won the toss and sent them in onto a Wanderers Stadium pitch which had early life.
Shaheen Shah Afridi made two early strikes before Hashim Amla (59) and captain Faf du Plessis (57) made half-centuries and put on 101 for the third wicket.
But Malik’s use of spinners Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan kept the scoring rate in check and both batsmen fell to the slow men before the fast bowlers returned.
Mohammad Amir dismissed the dangerous David Miller before Shinwari had Rassie van der Dussen caught behind for 18 and bowled Dale Steyn for a two-ball duck.
Kagiso Rabada was caught behind first ball and Beuran Hendricks survived an appeal for leg before wicket with what Shinwari hoped was the hat-trick ball. The ball was crashing into the stumps but Shinwari acknowledged that umpire Bongani Jele had made the right decision because there was a faint inside edge.
Shinwari had Phehlukwayo caught at slip off the first ball of his next over before Shadab Khan had last batsman Imran Tahir caught in the deep.
Before today’s defeat, South Africa were defending a perfect 7-0 record on what has become known as ‘Pink Day’ with their players and many spectators dressed in pink in aid of breast cancer awareness.
For his brilliant bowling performance Shinwari bagged the award for the player of the match.
The series decider will be played in Cape Town on Wednesday, January 30