SA finally on the good side of the weather with good third ODI win
The weather and South Africa's perfectly timed aggressive streak earned them a 13-run win through the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method in the third ODI.
With Pakistan having scored 317/6 in their 50 overs on the back of Imam-ul-Haq's fifth ODI ton, South Africa needed to pull off the second highest successful chase at the ground to take a 2-1 lead.
After 33 overs, South Africa needed to be on 174 having lost two wickets. Reeza Hendricks (83*) and Faf du Plessis (40*) took advantage of the altered conditions after the first rain break to nudge ahead decisively.
South Africa were 187/2 in the 33rd over when a consistent rain shower from 8.24pm onwards forced the game's abandonment.
They did well to win, especially after their indifferent start to the tall chase. South Africa lost two early wickets before the first rain break when Hashim Amla (25) clipped Shadab Khan to Babar Azam at short mid-wicket.
Quinton de Kock had a lot more urgency and fluency but he was well run out by Khan, who swooped in from cover and nailed a direct hit that caught De Kock short at the non-strikers end.
That left South Africa 79/2 in the 15th over, 18 runs adrift of the DLS par score of 97 for the same stage. When the weather closed in at the end of the 17th over, South Africa were 88/2, 15 runs off the pace.
Clearly understanding that more inclement weather was on the way, Reeza Hendricks and Du Plessis batted with a real sense of purpose after the enforced hour break.
They added 99 runs from the 17th to the 33rd over, moving past the DLS par score. Their 100-run partnership came off only 96 balls as the slick field made gripping the ball difficult.
Their unbeaten 107-run alliance was stalled by the rain but they were four runs ahead of the DLS par score.
When Pakistan lost Fakhar Zaman to one of his trademark horrendous shots after a laboured 10-ball two, they didn't look like a team that was going to cross 300.
That would have been a big disappointment for the visitors, especially after they won the toss and had first use of a beautiful batting strip.
He gifted Beuran Hendricks (1/50) his first ODI wicket when his attempted agricultural hoick only went as far as Kagiso Rabada (2/57) at short mid-wicket Imam though went out his business unfussed and with Babar (69) also making the most of an early life when he was dropped by Andile Phehlukwayo off Beuran Hendricks on nine.
They glided past the 50 and 100-run partnership marks in 62 and 124 balls respectively. In that partnership, there still was time for Tabraiz Shamsi (1/75) to drop Imam on 53 off Dale Steyn's (2/43) bowling at mid-off.
It was a drop the Proteas would rue as Imam glided to his ODI ton off only 114 balls. Imam weathered the losses of Babar, who was trapped plumb in front by Steyn and proceeded to waste the review and Mohammad Hafeez, who constructed an unfettered 45-ball 52.
Hafeez was fortunate to survive an early grassed catch when Amla turfed him off his nemesis Steyn. Hafeez made the most of his fortune and went about his batting business with some ease.
While the Imam/Azam 132-run second wicket stand spanned 141 ball, the accelerator was pressed in the Imam/Hafeez 73-ball 84-run alliance for the third wicket.
The middle overs where profitable for the visitors, yielding 181 stress-free runs after a slow start while the last 10 came brought 92 frenetic runs.
South Africa's bowlers, Phehlukwayo and Imam, who had a cheeky “silence the haters” celebration after getting his century, finally fell for 101 when he holed out to Rassie van der Dussen at deep mid-wicket off Shamsi but there still was time for fielding lapses when David Miller grassed Shoaib Malik (31) on three at deep square-leg.
Imad Wasim (43*) was dropped by Reeza Hendricks at deep long-off to complete South Africa's fielding horror show.
The all-rounders combined for a boundary-laded fifth-wicket partnership of 52 off just 30 balls, with the landmark raised in just 26 deliveries.
Malik and Hassan Ali (one) perished in the chase for quick runs and the steep target was set. The rain, Reeza Hendricks and Du Plessis had other ideas.