Pakistan's Cricket World Cup revival continued with a 29-run Duckworth/Lewis win in a close encounter against South Africa in Auckland on Saturday — a third successive victory which boosts their chances of reaching the quarter-finals.
Pakistan batted first at Eden Park and, after their innings was twice interrupted by rain, they lost their last five wickets for 10 runs to slump to 222 all out with a top score of 56 from Misbah-ul-Haq from their 47 overs.
In reply, a score of 77 from 58 balls by AB de Villiers steadied the ship but South Africa failed to meet their victory target as they were bowled out for 202 after Mohammad Irfan, Rahat Ali and Wahab Riaz claimed three wickets apiece.
Pakistan openers Ahmed Shehzad and Sarfraz Ahmed had made a collective 30 when Shehzad was dismissed thanks to an exquisite catch from Dale Steyn off Kyle Abbott's bowling in the ninth over.
The fast bowler, fielding at mid on, had to back-pedal considerably but made up enough ground before diving and snaffling a two-handed catch a mere inches from the ground.
The Eden Park crowd roared excitedly when Sarfraz clubbed JP Duminy for successive sixes early in 16th over before adding a third maximum with the final ball of the over.
Pakistan has reached to 90 for one at the start of the 17th over, but a moment of madness saw Sarfraz run out attempting a second run to depart one run short of his fifty.
Skipper De Villiers brought himself into the attack and was celebrating in his third over when Younus, having looked extremely comfortable, tamely chipped to cover to depart for 37 in the 27th over.
Sohaib Maqsood (eight) lasted just 15 balls before he clipped Abbott to point as Pakistan's innings stalled somewhat at 156 for four at the end of the 32nd over.
Umar Akmal (13) was undone by the bounce of Morne Morkel, top-edging to mid-wicket, to restrict Pakistan for 175 for five before rain delayed play for half an hour or so.
Misbah collected his 42nd ODI half-century when play resumed before the players were forced from the field once again as the showers returned.
The second interruption did Pakistan no favours as they lost their last five wickets for just 25 runs, crumbling from 195 for five in the 41st over to 222 all out in their allotted 47 overs.
Shahid Afridi edged Dale Steyn to deep-backward square-leg to depart for 22 in the 42nd over and, three balls later, they were seven down when Riaz was pinned leg before by Imran Tahir.
Steyn removed Misbah in the next over for a team-high 56 and Ali and Sohail Khan fell shortly after as Pakistan collapsed spectacularly.
South Afrcia’s innings was only two balls old when they lost Quinton de Kock, caught behind off Irfan, without scoring and they were two down in the 10th over when Ali tricked Faf du Plessis (27) into edging behind.
Pakistan wicketkeeper Sarfraz picked up his and Pakistan’s third dismissal in the very next over when Riaz forced Hashim Amla into a leading edge to depart for 38 from 27 deliveries.
Riaz accounted for Rilee Rossouw (six) in the 13th over to leave South Africa four down with just 74 runs on the board and things went from bad to worse when they lost David Miller (nought) moments later.
De Villiers and Duminy (12) guided South Africa past the hundred-mark in the 20th over but the latter carelessly gave his wicket away when he tried to hook Wahab but succeeded only in top-edging to fine leg.
Steyn lost his wicket for 16 as he became Irfan’s third victim after scoring three fours from his 17 balls to leave his side needing 94 runs for victory.
De Villiers celebrated his half-century after claiming his third maximum from 45 balls which also included four boundaries as he continued battling on with some big hits before Kyle Abbott (12) was caught by Younus at second slip off Ali as South Africa continued to collapse.
Khan finally claimed the big wicket of De Villiers for 77 in the 33rd over after he was caught behind by Ahmed and Imran soon followed to leave his side with 202 and handing Pakistan a 29-run victory.