De Villiers steers South Africa to victory in tricky chase
Pakistan 179 (Misbah 79*, Philander 3-26) v South Africa
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
South Africa chased successfully for the first time in eight matches but they had their bowlers to thank for setting up a moderate target. They restricted Pakistan to a score under 200 on a surface where extra bounce and turn made batting tricky.
Vernon Philander, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Ryan McLaren and Wayne Parnell all got the ball to kick up from back of a length and tested Pakistan's line-up with tight lines. Contrastingly, Pakistan's attack, sans Junaid Khan, only really troubled South Africa with their spinners, whose mid-innings strangehold threatened to send the hosts into freefall. AB de Villiers batted with the patience required to steer his team and save them from being whitewashed in a three-ODI series for the first time in more than 20 years. The loss would have left Pakistan wondering what could have been had they had Shahid Afridi, who was rested, as a bowling option in this game.
Pakistan made four changes in total to their XI and despite the new-look outfit, Misbah-ul-Haq promised not to take a relaxed approach to the final fixture.He was the only one who stuck to that resolution, with a customary half-century amid the collapse. The memo was missed by the rest, starting with Ahmed Shehzad, who played lazily at the fourth delivery of the morning to give Hashim Amla a regulation catch at first slip. Asad Shafiq also failed to make use of his opportunity but Umar Amin showed better temperament.
In his first appearance in this series, he was asked to open and did the right thing by giving himself time to get his eye in before attacking. With Sohaib Maqsood in good touch, the pair looked capable of setting Pakistan up. They scored 41 runs in the 47 balls they were together before a well-judged catch by Amla at slip ended their stand and indicated the problems extra bounce would cause.
Ryan McLaren pitched back of a length and Amin got a thick edge as he fended at it to force Amla into a jump. McLaren continued to trouble Pakistan's batsmen with the lift he generated. His short ball also accounted for Masood, who played the pull too early and popped the ball up for McLaren to complete the a nifty catch in his follow-through.
When Umar Akmal too was the victim of a stunning catch - by his opposite number who dived one-handed to take it - Pakistan were teetering. They inched even closer to unravelling when Bilawal Bhatti and Anwar Ali were dismissed in the space of three balls to leave Pakistan at 97 for 7. It was a situation Misbah-ul-Haq has been in many a time and one he knows how to navigate expertly.
He found an ally in Abdur Rehman, who was willing to rotate strike and spend time at the crease. The pair negotiated the short ball barrage well but also flirted with danger. Misbah was on 43 when he almost threw it away, cutting off Wayne Parnell. JP Duminy at backward point put down a simple chance. Rehman lofted McLaren to third man but the substitute fielder spilled it. The pair posted 51 before Rehman holed out to deep square leg and Misbah was left to finish off.
Back to back sixes off Imran Tahir, whom Misbah charged to smack straight down the ground, took him three-quarters of the way to a century, but as been the case throughout his career, he was left stranded with Pakistan on a below-par score.
South Africa's openers set about their task briskly. Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock blitzed their way 34 off the first five overs against a Pakistan opening pair that offered width and strayed on the pads. Had they tempered their enthusiasm with some caution, they could have batted through but de Kock was the first to go when he top-edged a pull off Bilawal Bhatti.
As soon as debutant Henry Davids arrived, so did the spin threat and it immediately slowed South Africa down. Davids battled to read Ajmal's line and after facing seven balls from him was put out of his memory when he was stumped.
Amla continued fluently and it was only when he was run-out that South Africa's nerves would have tightened. JP Duminy and AB de Villiers were tied down by Pakistan's spinners, which resulted in even Maqsood being given a bowl. Duminy was eventually tempted by Rehman's flight. He went forward to try and play on the leg-side and the ball hit bat, pad and then settled into Akmal's glove.
David Miller provided the aggression to get South Africa out of what was becoming a pressure situation. By the time he flashed off Tanvir, the match was all but won and with the required run-rate under control, de Villiers and McLaren could knock it around until they reached the target. McLaren did not last until the end but de Villiers was unbeaten while Wayne Parnell smoked the winning runs with more than 11 overs to spare.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent