DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Pakistan paced its chase perfectly to beat South Africa by one wicket with one ball left in a thrilling fourth one-day international on Friday, sending the series to a "final" on Monday.
In an amazing last over of hits and missed chances, Zulqarnain Haider ran for two runs to tie the score off the third-to-last delivery while barely avoiding a run out at the other end, then hit the winning single off the next ball down the leg side.
That helped Pakistan rally for the second time in the series to tie it 2-2.
"The boys really played well and kept their nerve especially at the end and that was the key," Pakistan coach Waqar Younis said, adding that the team has lost several games in the past six months under similar circumstances.
After South Africa made 274-6 off 50 overs, including 92 by captain Graeme Smith, the target was considered too big for Pakistan, but Younis Khan held the chase together with a 73, and the run rate was always reasonable with support from opener Mohammad Hafeez (42 off 29 balls) and in the middle order from Asad Shafiq (36), Shahid Afridi (29) and Abdul Razzaq (33).
The dismissal of Razzaq, the last recognized batsman, in the 47th over by Morne Morkel appeared to end Pakistan's hopes at 244-8, but Wahab Riaz produced another great cameo in Dubai International Cricket Stadium. He was dropped in the same over by Smith off Morkel while on 1, and made the Proteas pay by smacking 18 off 10 balls to make the win virtually inevitable.
By the time Riaz was run out by Wayne Parnell with three balls to go, Pakistan needed only three to win.
And Haider made sure they got them, taking advantage of Parnell missing another run out chance on the next ball. Haider finished a career-best 19 not out off 22 balls.
Younis heaped praise on Khan — who was recalled for this series after an indefinite ban was lifted in June — and Haider for their scoring efforts.
"Zulqarnain can bat," Younis said. "He doesn't appear to be the striker of the ball. But when he went in, all we needed was for him to keep going and make sure he played the field. He did exactly what we needed."
Smith blamed the loss on poor bowling and fielding, saying their miscues handed the win to Pakistan.
"The fielding was not good throughout," Smith said. "In the final 10 overs, we let Pakistan gain the momentum."
Earlier, Graeme Smith, returning from a hand injury, hit 92 and AB de Villiers 49 in a mid-innings platform of 94, then Johan Botha smashed 28 off 15 balls as South Africa plundered 48 off the last four overs.
Pakistan's bowlers mainly struggled and had to endure several dropped catches, but Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Hafeez and Riaz took two wickets each at considerable expense.
Smith, who won the toss and elected to bat, immediately went after fast bowler Abdul Razzaq and Akhtar. Smith and Hashim Amla, who scored an unbeaten century in the last match, looked secure in making 30 until Amla top-edged a pull off Akhtar to Imran Farhat at square leg in the seventh over.
Jacques Kallis was out for 15, then Smith and de Villiers patiently handled the Pakistan attack.
Smith reached his 42nd one-day half century off 57 balls, and was heading toward his ninth ODI hundred until Hafeez got him lbw in the 31st over. Smith hit nine boundaries in his 105-ball knock.
Hafeez also caught out de Villiers, who sliced at Akhtar one run shy of a half century.
JP Duminy was out for 36 at 226-5, and David Miller was bowled for a duck next ball by Riaz's yorker, but that brought in Botha, who joined Colin Ingram with just under four overs left. They smashed Pakistan to all parts.
Botha slashed Riaz over slips to the fence from his second delivery faced, and hit five more boundaries, while Ingram, dropped on 4 and 13, finished 27 not out off 25 balls.