LAHORE: Pakistan claimed a thrilling eight-run victory against South Africa in their first top-level match on home soil in over 15 months on Friday.
The day-night limited overs match at the Gaddafi Stadium was the first in the five-match series against the Proteas, who are here on a shortened tour after briefly cancelling due to security fears.
Stringent security was in place for the series opener in this eastern city with more than 2,000 policemen and 150 commandos on guard. A bomb disposal squad had cleared all 14 stands of the stadium before the match.
Some 20 policemen kept a tight watch over each stand for the game which attracted a capacity crowd of 28,000.
Fans in Pakistan have been starved of international cricket since anti-Christian and anti-Western attacks last year kept foreign teams away.
Friday's match was a thriller with South Africa's Boeta Dippenaar scoring a maiden hundred with a boundary off Shoaib Akhtar to bring the visitors to within 13 runs of an improbable win in the last over.
But Mohammad Sami held his nerve and conceded just four runs to seal the home team's win.
Pakistan owed victory to Shoaib Malik's fiery unbeaten 82 off just 41 balls to post a respectable 277-6 after they won the toss and decided to bat.
Dippenaar's superb knock lasted 131 balls and he hit seven boundaries and two sixes. Needing a run rate of 5.56 per over, Dippenaar and skipper Graeme Smith gave the tourists a sound start of 138 and batted with confidence despite being behind in the required run rate.
Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar returned for his second spell to dismiss Smith, caught at mid-on for a 99-ball 71 and in his next over bowled Jacques Kallis with an inside edge for one.
The second of the five-match series will be played at the same venue today. – AFP