Centuries to AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla fired South Africa to a 34-run one-day international win over Pakistan on Saturday.
With the five-match series locked at 1-1, the third clash in Johannesburg was well poised after Pakistan sent their opponents in to bat.
De Villiers (128) and Amla (122) batted superbly, combining for a 238-run partnership for the third wicket as they posted a huge total of 343-5.
Pakistan were valiant in their run-chase, but only Shahid Afridi (88 off 48 balls) and Mohammed Hafeez (57) could score half-centuries as they were eventually bowled out for 309 in the penultimate over.
South Africa, were wearing pink to raise awareness for breast cancer, made a horror start to their innings when opener Graeme Smith (three) was bowled by left-armer Mohammad Irfan (2-34 off seven overs) in the third over.
Colin Ingram (17) also fell to Irfan, leaving Amla and de Villiers to resurrect the innings from 2-42 in the 14th over.
And that they did, plundering the ball to all parts of the New Wanderers Stadium in an excellent display of clean hitting from two of the finest batsmen in world cricket.
Amla hit nine fours and one six while he also turned the strike over well, with de Villiers hitting three maximums and 12 boundaries in his 108-ball stay at the crease.
Both players scored at well over a run a ball and their precision hitting meant Pakistan would be chasing a huge total.
They eventually broke the partnership – which lasted more than 30 overs – when Amla was caught by Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq off the bowling of the expensive Wahab Riaz (2-93 off 10) in the 45th over.
De Villiers departed shortly after when he became the first and only victim of spinner Saeed Ajmal (1-62 off 10) but Faf du Plessis kept the run-rate flying with a sensational solo performance.
Du Plessis whacked 45 runs from 19 deliveries, including four sixes, before being dismissed in the final over.
Lonwabo Tsotsobe (3-74 off 10) claimed the wicket of Nasir Jamshed (10) early for South Africa but Hafeez and Kamran Akmal (30) got to work and added 82 runs inside 13 overs.
Both went quickly though, and after Younis Khan (19), Misbah (28) and Shoaib Malik (four) failed to make a meaningful impact, Pakistan were 6-203.
Spinner Robin Peterson (2-51 off 10) and medium-pacer Ryan McLaren (3-56 off nine) kept the run-rate down until Afridi strode to the crease and delivered a master-class in big-hitting.
The ground was simply too small for his strokeplay as he belted five fours and seven sixes to give Pakistan an outside chance of victory.
Tsotsobe removed him in the 36th over though, and although Riaz (45) played well late, Dale Steyn (1-48 off 10) and McLaren wrapped up the innings, giving South Africa a 2-1 lead in the series.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 18 March, 2013 9:53AM AEST