AB de Villiers, the South Africa ODI captain, has said Lonwabo Tsotsobe's two wickets in two balls made the side believe they were in with a chance of defending 183 against Pakistan in the first ODI in Sharjah. Tsotsobe had Umar Amin caught behind off the last ball of the 41st over, then dismissed Sohail Tanvir off the first delivery of the 43rd to reduce Pakistan to 174 for 7.
"Turning points? I was very happy to get Misbah out but I didn't think that was the main wicket," AB de Villiers said. "It was the start, but the two wickets in two balls which Lopsy took, that was when I really started believing we could win."
In between those two strikes, South Africa also picked up the wicket of dangerous Umar Akmal, who, as per AB de Villiers, was one of the two critical wickets, along with Shahid Afridi, South Africa were after.
"When those two were together, I thought they'll either win it in a couple of overs or both get out, but they'll both give you chances," de Villiers said. "I said to Graeme at slip: 'We're not out of this game, we could win this...'
"I always thought if we could get them four-down then we could get guys like Akmal and Afridi quickly, too, if we bowled well. That's what happened tonight and suddenly the tailenders were at the crease and we had a chance to win the game."
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq said he did not understand that his batsmen were thinking as he watched the innings crumble from the dressing room. "The last six batsmen should have batted, knowing how many runs were needed to score. It is very disappointing that they played very irresponsible shots," he said. "I think it is high time players understand how to play under such situations.
"I think we could say that my dismissal and then those of Amin and Umar were crucial, and after that Afridi was left alone and we wanted him to stay there till the end. We just needed two runs an over and one-and-half runs per over and I don't know what was going through the batsmen's mind, maybe, they over-relaxed a little bit."
With Pakistan just seven away from a win, South Africa snapped the other big wicket, Afridi, who toe-ended a pull off a long hop to the fielder at deep midwicket. Pakistan were eight down and South Africa sensed a chance.
"We were going to fight until the bitter end, but statistics would tell you that we probably had 0.1% chance of winning the game," de Villiers said. "But those two wickets - suddenly there was a tailender at one end and when you have a bowler like Imran who can turn the ball both ways then you are always in with a chance of a wicket."
The last two wickets added five more runs and the Pakistan innings closed a run short of South Africa's total.
De Villiers added the win could be the boost that would help turn the team's batting woes too. "I can't put my finger on it - except that we're not scoring runs or getting partnerships going," he said. "Sometimes you need something strange to happen, a win like this to turn things around for you. I'm not sure it was conditions tonight, though - it was a bit of a freak show tonight."
AB de Villiers
South Africa vs Pakistan
South Africa tour of United Arab Emirates