Total turn around by Pakistan in Port Elizabeth
Pakistan produced a near perfect display of one-day cricket to level the tandard Bank One-Day International series with an emphatic 182-run win over South Africa at St. George's Park in Port Elizabeth.
Winning the toss on a pitch that was always going to suit them better than the one in Durban, Pakistan made their intentions clear with Shahid Afridi setting the tone of the innings in the first over.
The South Africans' short-lived joy at the early wicket of Afridi for 13 off eight balls, turned into despair as Saleem Elahi and Abdur Razzaq set about the bowling with a record second-wicket partnership of 257 in 40 overs.
Things might have been different had Lance Klusener held on to a fairly easy catch at third man when Saleem Elahi was on 34 and the Pakistan score 66, but that did not deter the batsman from taking full advantage of his second chance.
In complete contrast to the innings in Durban, he batted magnificently, recordind his third hundred in four innings, surpassing his highest score of 108. By the time he was caught at cover for 135 off 129 balls, including 19 sparkling boundaries and the highest score by a Pakistan batsman against South Africa, the damage had been done. When asked about his innings all he could say was "Happy".
Abdur Razzaq was a surprise coming in at number three, where he has had limited success, and played a marvellous chanceless career-best innings of 112, his first hundred in this form of cricket. Using 120 balls to score his runs he recorded 13 fours and two sixes.
With the remaining batsmen throwing caution to the wind, Inzamam-ul-Haq managed a quick 36 off 22 balls to leave Pakistan on a massive 335/6, the highest score ever by any team against South Africa, and also the highest at St. George's Park.
When the slaughter was complete, the bowling figures were in tatters with none of the South African bowlers able to maintain an economy rate of less than six per over. Makhaya Ntini and Allan Donald had some success with two wickets apiece.
South Africa needed to break the record for a team batting second and winning, improving on the 330 scored by Australia at the same ground after South Africa had posted 327.
A good start was imperative and Herschelle Gibbs provided it. A 57-run partnership with Graeme Smith ended when Waqar Younis, after having a good LBW decision turned down, replied by clean bowling Gibbs for 40 in the eighth over.
The wicket seemed to inspire him and he proceeded to bowl two excellent maidens in a row including the wicket of Smith for 18, who seemed to run out of patience charging down the pitch to drag the ball into the stumps.
Neil McKenzie became the Waqar's third wicket when an in-swinger trapped him right in front for four.
Mohammad Sami, picking up three wickets, once again used his pace to cause problems for the South African batsmen. Boje, on the pull, was caught at long leg. Rhodes played outside a ball to be bowled and Kallis chased a wide one to be caught behind.
South Africa had in the space of 10.3 overs gone from 57/1 to 100/7 and Pakistan were well on the way to a well-deserved win.
Pollock and Klusener resisted for a short period before Afridi, who had Mark Boucher caught behind, bowled Pollock with a wrong 'un and had Donald caught behind. Bowled out for 153, South Africa had recorded their lowest score against Pakistan in 12 home internationals.
The only positive for South Africa was the increased confidence of Lance Klusener. Ending the night undefeated on 29 he seems to returning to the form he showed during the 1999 World Cup.
Pakistan must rate this as one of their best performances in recent years, and a total turnaround from the performance in Durban. Their batting was near faultless and once Waqar Younis found his rhythm it filtered through to the rest of the team.
It was an emphatic win that should make them favourites for East London on Friday night before they move on to the quicker pitches in Cape Town and Paarl.