Mohammed Hafeez and Umar Gul turned their tour around to take Pakistan to an emphatic victory and leapfrog three places on the ICC rankings to No.3. With the Durban match rained out, Pakistan also claimed the series and a piece of silverware to go along with the bragging rights.
With no Dale Steyn to contend with, Hafeez played with freedom and confidence. He became the first Pakistan batsmen to 1,000 Twenty20 runs and notched up his highest score in the format. Timing, placement and an 83-run stand with Ahmed Shehzad helped him set Pakistan up.
Gul showed no such subtlety. In the space of six balls, he took four wickets to kneecap South Africa and end the contest. Good lengths to desperate batsmen were his razor blade and he sliced through with precision. Hafeez landed even more telling blows with ball in hand but it was Gul who ensured South Africa were bowled out inside 13 overs and thoroughly outplayed.
South Africa's attack showed little of the same discipline and they were flayed from almost the very beginning. New captain Faf du Plessis battled with the over-rate, the ineffectiveness of his spinners and a more aggressive approach from Pakistan.
Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad began positively with Shehzad settling in quickly. He pounced on width, the overpitched delivery and the short one to create a launchpad.
Jamshed was hampered by what looked like a hand niggle and could not take off with Shehzad. But his dismissal was the tonic for Pakistan. After he holed out to mid-on, the South African fielders made the mistake that cost them when they missed a double opportunity to run Shehzad out. Hafeez cut the ball to du Plessis at point and Shehzad had charged all the way up to his end. Du Plessis' throw missed the non-strikers' stumps but went to mid-on, where Justin Ontong had enough time to run Shehzad out but also missed.
Shehzad accepted the invite to capitalise and displayed power and placement in equal quantities. He launched Chris Morris over long-off as an example of the former and beat du Plessis, arguably the most agile fielder around, by opening the face of his bat to guide a slower ball for four in an elegant showing of the latter.
Both he and Hafeez found the gaps easily and threaded the ball through fielders. The area behind short fine leg and backward point was a favourite and they scored nine boundaries there between them. When they were at the crease, the run-rate remained above 10 an over and a massive total was in sight.
Shehzad eventually fell on his sword when he was run-out but Hafeez continued aggressively with Ontong and cow corner his new target. He nailed it three times in the 14th over to bring up his highest T20 score and set himself up for a century.
With the time and the confidence to get there, it seemed nothing would stop Hafeez except himself. In a bizarre twist, he slid onto his stumps as he smashed a Rory Kleinveldt ball over the covers and was out hit wicket.
That sparked a mini collapse for Pakistan. They lost four wickets in the space of 19 balls as South Africa's death bowling showed improvement. Little did they know that they would have to make up for the inadequacies of their batsmen as well.
With a storm brewing, South Africa began in a hurry. AB de Villiers' move to opening the batting appeared to pay off as not even Henry Davids' early departure unsettled him. He was innovative in his strokeplay and even brought out his own version of the Dilscoop but he had no support at the other end.
In one over, Gul derailed South Africa as he had du Plessis caught behind (despite Kamran Akmal fumbling), Chris Morris who was promoted to No.4 was caught at third man going after going for a big shot and Ontong out lbw. At 51 for 4, even if there was weather waiting, it did not matter.
De Villiers played on off Mohammed Irfan and Farhaan Berhardien was caught at point to sink South Africa further. It was only a matter of time after that and it did not take very long. Kleinveldt had some fun off Hafeez but holed out to deep extra cover and Robin Peterson's attempt at a switch hit did not work as he was caught at short fine leg.
Fittingly, Gul took the last wicket when Kyle Abbott top-edged to end South Africa's feeble chase and become the highest wicket-taker in T20 cricket. At the halfway stage, Pakistan's total of 195 seemed to be 20 short, more because of the rate they were hurtling along at than the conditions, but their bowlers ensured it was more than enough.