South Africa 241 for 3 (De Kock 83, du Plessis 50*, van der Dussen 50*) beat Pakistan 240 for 8 (Fakhar 70, Imad 47*, Phehlukwayo 2-42, Pretorius 2-46) by seven wickets
The rain that briefly threatened as dark clouds swirled above the Table Mountain didn't come, but the series decider was still a damp squib in the end. Across a series that had been as unpredictable as it was streaky, Pakistan appeared to have the upper hand as well as the momentum following a crushing win in Johannesburg. South Africa, though, repaid the favour in kind with a thumping at Newlands, set up by a brilliantly disciplined performance from their bowling allrounders, and killed off thanks to a sizzling 58-ball 83 by Quinton de Kock. The 240 Pakistan had posted was, as Andile Phehlukwayo confidently said at the innings break, "definitely below par", South Africa hunting it down with seven wickets and ten overs to spare.
This has been a frustrating series in its denial of on-field drama. In the third ODI, which promised to be a thriller, rain intervened to play spoilsport, and when the series moved to the Wanderers and now Newlands, the contest the spectators craved was nowhere to be found. Here, at least, the Cape Town crowd will go home with the warm glow of a match clinically won, and a series South Africa had treated as something of a guinea pig well retained.
In any case, do catch yourself before feeling too sorry for the people who came out today. They will carry memories of one of the most exciting sights in world cricket right now, treated as they were to a de Kock special, which pushed the limits of what a man could achieve on natural talent alone. It was close - one heel of a boot, to be precise - to being snuffed in its embryonic stages, when de Kock skied Usman Shinwari with his innings having only just begun, only for last game's hero to have narrowly overstepped.
It was a criminal oversight, and de Kock set about to punishing Shinwari and his side duly. Shinwari himself was tonked for 18 in an over, with de Kock unafraid to take on the short ball from Pakistan's quickest bowler in the 19th over, dispatching both deliveries above his shoulder for sixes. He had earlier dismantled Shadab Khan, upsetting his line with repeated reverse-sweeps, and punishing him with more conventional strokes when he missed his length.
It was through the middle stages that South Africa dragged Pakistan back with clinical efficiency, not only undoing the damage incurred early on but also limiting the visitors back to 240. It was the allrounders rather than the bowling specialists who hit Pakistan hardest: Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius and Wiaan Mulder sharing five wickets between them to set up the series win.
Despite the fact that teams batting first had only lost twice at Newlands in the last 18 years after having posted 240, and 23 of the last 29 matches have seen the chasing side vanquished, du Plessis decided to put Pakistan in first. That all four matches this series prior had been won by the team batting second may have played a part, with the South African captain prioritising the most recent history rather than records further down the years. Dale Steyn got them off to the best possible start, Pakistan's leading run-scorer this series Imam-ul-Haq dismissed slashing one down to third man in just the third over.
Fakhar Zaman was more relaxed than he has been recently, perhaps buoyed after an early lifeline, punishing width outside the off stump regularly throughout his innings. The slash through the covers was his most productive shot, but he was almost equally proficient square on the other side, with anything close to the body dismissed to square leg. That Pakistan had South Africa on the backfoot and could aspire to a total around 275 early on was down almost solely to him. When Phehlukwayo dismissed him, Imran Tahir executing a catch at fine leg with his foot millimetres from touching the boundary, he had made 70 off 73, and that was as good as it would get for Pakistan.
That brought things to a near standstill for Pakistan, with Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Hafeez and Shadab Khan all incapable of putting the innings back on track. Rizwan, given a rare opportunity to impress, was found wanting on the day. Pakistan's second-choice wicketkeeper never could set his innings on course, with Pretorius ensnaring him as he attempted a wild slog. Having scored just 10 off 30 balls, he was emblematic of his side's toil in the middle overs. Just 52 were scored in the 16 overs that followed Fakhar Zaman's dismissal, and where once Pakistan dreamed of 275, they would now have to scramble for 240.
To their credit, the pace trio of Phehlukwayo, Mulder and Pretorius did an outstanding job of controlling the middle overs. They varied their pace through that period, a major reason why the batsmen never appeared to find the timing to get their innings going. The frustration boiled over into the way they ran between the wickets; when a mix-up between Shadab and Shoaib resulted in the captain being runout, it surprised no one - frenetic running and scrambled minds had lent that wicket an air of inevitability. It was almost a wicket you could add to the tally of the bowler Pretorius, with the run out coming off the last ball of a frustratingly tight over. The series was being sealed in those moments before lunch.
With six needed, both for South Africa to secure victory and van der Dussen to reach his third international half-century in five innings, there was a sense of inevitability about what would happen off the final ball of the hapless Shadab's over. The legspinner was dispatched to the sightscreen, and South Africa secured another series victory.