Jonty Rhodes single-handedly played Pakistan right out of the first Standard Bank One-Day International at Kingsmead in Durban setting up a convincing 132- run win for South Africa.
Pakistan won the toss and had no hesitation in sending the hosts in to bat on a pitch that was always likely to give early assistance to the bowlers.
The decision to field was soon justified with South Africa quickly losing the wickets of Herschelle Gibbs without scoring, Neil McKenzie for 11, Nicky Boje for 20 and Jacques Kallis for six leaving the home team on 86 for four in the 21st over.
Up to this point Pakistan looked in total control with Wasim Akram showing why he is the leading wicket taker in international cricket. Moving the ball both ways through the air and off the pitch he finished with the remarkable figures of 3/19 in his 10 overs, taking the wickets of Gibbs, Graeme Smith and Mark Boucher.
"We made the early breakthroughs that we had planned but then we spoilt it. Rhodes is one of the top players in world cricket and his running between the wickets seemed to upset our rhythm," said Waqar Younis.
Rhodes, the little Kingsmead hero, scored at better than a run a ball as he wrestled the initiative away from Pakistan and took complete control of the situation. "Being my home ground and the fact that the pitch suited me today I was able to push the ball around and get partnerships going," Rhodes said. "A few lucky fours changed the impetus allowing Pollock to get on with it at the end," he added.
In the chase for runs Rhodes unselfishly lost his wicket on 98, off 92 balls, when trying to force a ball to the on side and spooning a catch to Rashid Latiff giving Waqar Younis his 400th international wicket for the bowler to become only the second player, after Wasim Akram, to reach the milestone.
Rhodes was involved in two 50 run partnerships, the first with Smith who under trying conditions scored a hard working 56, and the second with Pollock ending the innings undefeated on 57, scoring his last 32 runs in 13 balls.
With 96 runs coming off the last ten overs the South African total of 272 for seven was always going to create problems for the team batting second.
The Pakistan top order failed miserably.
Taufeeq Umar and Saleem Elahi never adjusted to the pace or the bounce of the wicket. Both, on numerous occasions, played and missed at both Pollock and Makhaya Ntini. Neither batsman could rotate the strike creating a lot of pressure for the batsmen down the order. Taufeeq Umar scored seven off 23 balls while Saleem Elahi scratched around for 31 off 69 balls.
Yousuf Youhana (8), Inzamam-ul-Haq (11), Younis Khan (17) and Abdur Razzaq (15) tried to get the run rate up but with the South Africans maintaining an excellent length and line and the bowlers being supported by some good catching and fielding the task became harder as the match progressed.
Pollock led by example, ending with the magnificent figures of 3/12 in 9.5 overs. He kept the pressure on the Pakistan batsmen with an impeccable display of line and length bowling. He summed the conditions up early and bowled to his strengths. "We knew that 270 was going to be a difficult target and everything just fell into place, it was very good today, apart from the batting hiccup, Rhodes was superb and we followed through," Pollock said.
Having been bowled out for 140 is going to add pressure to the Pakistan who now head off to Port Elizabeth for the second ODI on Wednesday. Not a lot of time to work on the problem areas and facing a South African team that is growing in confidence and performance.