South Africa win sets up series finale
South Africa 158 for 4 (Kallis 58*, Gibbs 41) beat Pakistan 157 (Youhana 60, Nel 4-39) by six wickets
Mark Boucher and Andre Nel celebrate Younis Khan's dismissal
Set a moderate target, South Africa were never in trouble. Shoaib Akhtar beat the bat a few times, but Graeme Smith was solid and compact and Gibbs silenced the crescendo that accompanied Akhtar's run-up when he pulled out a few sizzling back-foot cover drives.
Mohammad Sami, not as threatening as his partner, got the breakthrough, when Smith attempted a full-blooded pull shot and played onto the stumps for 13. Kallis joined Gibbs and both survived lucky escapes off Shabbir Ahmed's bowling, Gibbs' miscued pull landing just over mid-off and Younis Khan at first slip making a mess of Kallis' edge. However, both stepped up the rate and when Kallis pulled Akhtar for a six over midwicket, an early finish was looming large. Gibbs played on to Akhtar, after a blazing 41 of just 46 balls, but Kallis' controlled aggression - blasting the loose balls and milking the good ones - supported by Jacques Rudolph's pendulum-smooth cover drives was the ideal recipe for reaching the target without any jitters.
On a benign pitch, Pakistan's batsmen showed complete lack of application and perished mainly due to their cavalier approach in the face of a disciplined bowling attack. Shaun Pollock (1 for 9) took only the one wicket but was responsible for many more as he instantly settled into a inch-perfect line and left the openers trying to break the shackles against Andre Nel at the other end.
Nel, though not as thrifty, bustled in and dangled the juicy carrot by pitching it full, and wide of the stumps, maintaining a consistent arc that took the ball away from the batsmen. He removed both Mohammad Hafeez (1) and Faisal Iqbal (0), and as much as the line that he bowled, they can attribute their downfall to Pollock's parsimony that had them bogged them down at the other end.
Yousuf Youhana (60) and Yasir Hameed (30) were the only batsmen who got starts and their 43-run partnership, mostly scored through singles and twos, revived hopes of a defendable total. But bad habits die hard, and Hameed fell to the flash-and-perish syndrome to Hall. Younis Khan settled down well, and just when he was finding the gaps, he played a fine leg-glance off Nel but Mark Boucher dived full length, clutching the ball with his fingertips.
Youhana, who delighted with a huge six and a few crisply hit fours, went soon after and then the rest decided to follow. Naved Latif and Shoaib Malik displayed amateur footwork and when Makhaya Ntini softened up Akhtar and had him edging next ball, the innings was in absolute tatters. Rashid Latif scratched around a bit, but when he was bowled trying to hit Pollock out of the ground, Pakistan were all but done.
South Africa showed that astute planning and persistently frustrating the batsmen can get them all the results, and more, against a side blessed with individual brilliance. Pakistan will look to avoid another crass batting display and will do well to remember that Akhtar's solo efforts cannot always orchestrate a symphony.