Pakistan had to get its act together in order to take the fight to the South Africans. They did half the job - their top order came good with patient yet steady half centuries from Mohammad Hafeez (68) and Younis Khan (54). But the middle and latter order collapsed like a house of cards thanks in part to some accurate and fiery bowling from Proteas' paceman Lonwabo Tsotsobe. Tsotsobe notched up a career best haul of 4 for 27 and along with some able support from Charl Langeveldt, Morne Morkel and Johan Botha, kept the Pakistanis down to a modest 203.
Pakistan appeared to be cruising at 140 for 1, but lost the bulk of their batting between the 30th and 40th over, leaving the late order to struggle to take their side over 200. The stage was set for Misbah-ul-Haq to carry Pakistan to a competitive total, but he disappointed, getting out for a mere 14. That triggered off a series of single-digit innings from Alam, Afridi and Razzak. Only wicket-keeper Haider was able to remain to the end to squeeze out a few runs along with the tail-enders.
Earlier in the innings, opener Shafiq could not contend with the tight line and length of the Proteas and was beaten outside the off-stump on several occasions, before getting out to a relentless Tsotsobe. Hafeez played an innings of true application and character, sticking to the game plan and making an attractive 68. But then he carved a loose ball from Botha down the throat of the point fielder. The next to go was Younis leg before, after a hard-earned 54, and Botha had got his best figures against Pakistan.
Much depended on Pakistan's bowlers to defend the meager total. But the chase turned out to be a doddle for the South African batsman. The Proteas got a threatening start from Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla. But after Smith dispatched Shoaib Akhtar through cover, he was struck on the hand by a quick, short one and had to retire hurt. Amla appeared to be in a hurry, but played one shot too many for his 29-ball 35 when he LBW to Saeed Ajmal. His innings was punctuated with two rather unsual shots - one, a swatted pull off Shoiab and an extremely late cut off Afridi.
Afridi and Saeed Ajmal spun the ball well to keep the runs from coming too quickly, but there efforts were not enough. Kallis played himself in nicely with a series of well-struck boundaries and his partner A B de Villiers matched him shot for shot. De Villiers was out caught and bowled after hitting a fifty and Kallis on 66, had to depart due to some severe cramps perhaps brought on by the heat. But by then, the damage had been done and it was upto J P Duminy and Colin Ingram to finish off the innings with a resounding 8-wicket victory.
As South Africa go up 1-0 in the ODI series, Pakistan is left with a lot of thinking to do. Their middle order will have to follow the commitment and grit shown by the top order if the side is to reach better totals in the remaining matches. The speedsters will have to bowl with more accuracy and the whole team will have to come together as a cohesive unit and a force to reckon with.