South Africa struck the deciding blow against Pakistan in the decider of the 5-match ODI series, winning the match by a comprehensive 57 runs to consign their opponents to a 3-2 loss in Dubai.
On two occasions thus far, the Proteas have allowed Pakistan to claw its way back into the series, but on Monday, they made sure that there were no more slip ups and that they came out on top. Jacques Kallis turned out to be South Africa's key man, demonstrating a fine all-round display by first scoring a well-made and quick-paced 83 and then knocking down three Pakistani wickets at the top of the order.
Pakistan might have been somewhat unsettled by the sudden disappearance of their wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider, who was later discovered in London. His absence at the last moment meant Pakistan's preparation was chaotic. It seems the controversies don't let up for an already beleaguered Pakistani side.
The Pakistani's were under pressure straight away when Hashim Amla got on top of the bowling, dispatching boundary after boundary and hitting Shoaib Akhtar for three fours in one early over. Even as Graeme Smith departed prematurely for 15 to Akhtar, Amla kept his scoring rate way up and didn't allow the fielding side to settle.
Kallis provided him able support and when Afridi eventually removed Amla for a quickfire 47-ball 62, Kallis and de Villiers had the perfect foundation to build on. Abdur Rehman did his best to check the run-flow with a spell of accurate left-arm spin but at 219 for 2 in the 38th over, Pakistan were in trouble.
The stage was set for a slog surge from J P Duminy who pulled off the job with flair, biffing 8 fours in his 41-ball 59-run unbeaten innings while Botha at the other end played a attractive cameo. 64 runs came in the last 5 overs and in the end, the Proteas had amassed a gigantic total of 317/5.
The Pakistani openers did their best to keep the contest alive - Shahzaib Hasan and Mohammad Hafeez put on a pacy 82 in just over 12 overs, before Hasan went to a resurgent Kallis. What followed was a semi-collapse when in the 15th and 17th overs, Kallis struck to remove Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf for just 3 runs a piece. Then Dale Steyn got into the act, sending back an in-form Fawad Alam for 1 run in the next over.
Shahid Afridi with a breezy but brief innings, Umar Akmal with a well-crafted 60 and Abdul Razzaq with a quick 39, tried to keep Pakistan in the hunt. But in the end, the mammoth chase got to the Pakistanis and the latter order was not able to put up much resistance, crumbling with single-digit scores.
In an anti-climax of sorts, the Pakistanis were bowled out for 260 in the 45th over. South Africa had proved that consistency was the name of their game as they romped home to wrap up the match and the series. Pakistan, for all their enterprise and energy, were not able to quite match up to the Proteas brilliance on the day that mattered the most. Kallis was awarded the Man of the Match, while Hashim Amla was declared the Performer of the Series.