South Africa 341 for 6 (Bavuma 92, de Kock 80, van der Dussen 60, Haris 3-54) beat Pakistan 324 for 9 (Fakhar 193, Nortje 3-63) by 17 runs
South Africa survived an astonishing onslaught from Fakhar Zaman to secure a series-levelling 17-run win against Pakistan in Johannesburg.
Zaman's 155-ball 193 was heroic, a one-man show in the truest sense of the word because no other Pakistani managed more than 31 in a chase of 342. It is the highest score in a chase in ODI cricket history, and the second highest ever in a losing cause. Zaman also surpassed Herchelle Gibbs' 175 to record the highest individual score at this venue.
After several stutters, South Africa did manage to get over the line, thanks to a commanding batting performance spearheaded by the top order. Captain Temba Bavuma top-scored with 92, while Quinton de Kock, Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller each brought up half-centuries, allowing South Africa to post 341 in the face of a listless bowling effort from the visitors.
Pakistan were never really in the chase right until the final 15 overs; once Zaman brought up his first ODI hundred in two years, he would run riot. Despite finishing with the highest score by a Pakistani in ODI cricket in South Africa, it always looked like an unassailable task, and in truth, proved so by some distance in the end.
Pakistan have never chased a total of this magnitude in ODI cricket, and a daunting challenge became even tougher when Imam-ul-Haq, one of the protagonists for the side at SuperSport Park, fell in the second over. For a brief while, Pakistan looked to have course-corrected with a 63-run partnership that exuded easy elegance from the bats of both Azam and Zaman. But Pakistan's bane on Friday, Nortje, would return to haunt them once more, exploiting a vulnerability against the short ball that brought about the seismic wicket of Azam in his first over. Two balls later, he would dismiss Mohammad Rizwan, and just like that, Pakistan's most in-form batsmen had been taken out of the equation.
It was an uncharacteristic innings through the middle from Zaman, as he reined in his belligerent instincts while the middle order crumbled around him. Danish Aziz was no match for Nortje's short lengths, while Shadab Khan and Asif Ali had little to contribute. Around that time, Zaman decided to go hell for leather once more, bringing up a 70-ball half-century with a colossal six over square leg.
That point on, the shackles were off, and even as wickets fell and the asking rate rose, runs off Zaman's bat came freely. In what seemed like a flash, he had brought up a hundred, and farmed the strike while plundering South Africa's bowlers, particularly the spinner Tabraiz Shamsi. Temba Bavuma persisted with him for an over too many even as Zaman singled him out and at one point struck five sixes in six balls off the spinner, bringing a ballooning asking rate back under control.
The central problem at this point for Pakistan was there were three number 11s at the other end, with Shaheen, and then Rauf, unable to turn the strike over reliably enough. Zaman was forced to take on ever increasing responsibility, turning down singles in a contest where every run was priceless. Thirteen runs off the 48th over brought the equation down to 38 off 12, and individual records were tumbling. By now, Zaman had overtaken Herschelle Gibbs' 175 in that famous chase of 434, 15 years ago, posting the highest individual score at the Wanderers. In the present, a disciplined penultimate over from Andile Phehlukwayo only allowed seven. A direct hit from long off from the first ball of the final over finally put an end to Zaman's resistance, and South Africa were home and dry at last.
Conditions here were quite similar to the one at Centurion two days ago. Azam called correctly again and elected to field on a belter. But this time, there was no sedate start from Aiden Markram, who set the tone with a classy cameo in the first powerplay, his 34-ball 39 ensuring Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Hasnain were unable to build much pressure early on. Once he fell, driving on the up off Faheem Ashraf, de Kock took more of a leadership role.
Haris Rauf was smashed for a six over fine leg and a boundary in the same over, while neither he nor Bavuma allowed Shadab, whose nosediving form shows little sign of recovering, to settle. Even Afridi, brought back a little earlier than Pakistan might have planned owing to the lack of wickets that fell, suffered punishment in his second spell, with de Kock taking 18 runs off his two overs.
There was little incision at the top from Pakistan, and while the rawness of Hasnain means there will be ups and downs, he was especially indifferent on Sunday. While Bavuma and the irrepressible van der Dussen were in full flow, Pakistan looked like they had reverted to going through the motions; discussions between captain and bowler were few and far between, and slot balls and full tosses abounded.
Van der Dussen brought up his half-century with a sweep to midwicket, following it up with another six and four off the hapless Hasnain. But with the South African going after just about every ball by this stage, he would hole out in the same over to long on, his 37-ball 60 having pushed what looked like a 300 total past 330. Bavuma was unselfish at the other end, continuing to go for high-risk shots even as a first hundred as captain beckoned, and found deep midwicket just eight short of the milestone.
By this time, Pakistan's sloppiness was infectious, as Ashraf leaked 13 off one ball when a no-ball and the free hit were dispatched for six by David Miller whose 27-ball 50 further damaged the visitors. Rauf did manage to pick up a couple of late wickets that slowed South Africa in the final few overs, but Miller would compensate for it by plundering 19 off Afridi's final over. In a game that ultimately only ended in a 17-run win, it turned out every one of those late blows would come in handy.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000