Waqar Younis, the Pakistan coach, has credited his bowlers for preventing South Africa from reaching 300 in the fourth ODI in Dubai, where his batsmen held on to secure another thrilling one-wicket victory off the penultimate ball of the match.
South Africa had progressed to 156 for 2 in the 31st over when Graeme Smith was dismissed on 92. Pakistan's bowlers fought back thereafter and kept the visitors to 274. "It was hell of a game," Waqar said after his team levelled the series. "We didn't let them get on top of us. Credit to our bowlers because, at one point of time, they were on course for a 300-plus total."
Pakistan's batsmen kept up with the asking-rate for most of the chase, and though no one apart from Younis Khan made a half-century, there was no collapse either. "After the third match, we spoke about lots of things," Waqar said. "The main thing was to play the full quota of 50 overs and today the tailenders ensured that we did, and that's why we managed to pull that off. The required run-rate never went out of our reach and that was a good thing.
"Younis Khan played a wonderful innings. He made sure that the youngsters played well. He guided them and used his experience well."
Zulqarnain Haider and Wahab Riaz were two young players who played crucial cameos in Pakistan's victory. Zulqarnain remained unbeaten on 19 and hit the winning runs, while Wahab scored 18 off 10 balls in a 28-run ninth-wicket partnership that took Pakistan to the verge of victory.
"Wahab Riaz is progressing well, he can bat and he is bowling good yorkers," Waqar said. "He is young and has a good future. Zulqarnain nudged the ball well and he, along with Wahab, made sure that we play 50 overs and in the end they did a commendable job."
Graeme Smith, who returned from injury for this game, said South Africa had scored enough but that his bowlers could have bowled better. "A total of 270 is really good, considering the fact that Pakistan needed to get it remain in the series. It was tough to bat freely at all times with the ball stopping due to a lot of dew. It was a winning total and, if we had bowled and fielded to our potential, I think we could have won."
Dale Steyn and Wayne Parnell were two bowlers who also returned after injury layoffs and they were expensive. Steyn conceded 79 off 10 overs and Parnell 53 off 8.5. "I don't want to sit and put the blame on their shoulders. Obviously they will be pretty disappointed in the change room by the way they performed tonight," Smith said. "They need to push on and get back their form. Steyn is one of our front-line bowlers. It is unfortunate that Tsotsobe picked up a back strain before the match."
The series is level at 2-2 and the sides will meet in the deciding ODI in Dubai on November 8.