Opener Hashim Amla hit a fighting winning hundred to save South Africa against an aggressive Pakistan bowling to guide them to 228-9 in the third day-night international on Tuesday.
The 27-year-old bearded right-hander batted without fuss to notch 119 for his sixth one-day hundred – his fifth this year – after Pakistan won the toss and put South Africa into bat on a tricky Dubai Stadium pitch.
Amla put on a important 59-run fourth wicket stand with Jean-Paul Duminy (26) after Pakistani paceman Shoaib Akhtar put them on the back foot by dismissing Jacques Kallis (nought) in the third over and in-form Colin Ingram (four) in the fifth.
Amla, who has so far scored 986 runs in 13 one-day matches this year, held on end during his 126-ball knock, hitting nine boundaries to carry his bat through the innings.
Pakistani spinners – Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez – also benefitted from the slow turn as they captaured four wickets between them and never allowed South African batsman any room for free strokeplay.
Afridi had dangerous-looking AB de Villiers and Albie Morkel – who both scored 19 each – during his 2-53 off ten overs, while Hafeez (2-34) accounted for Duminy and David Miller (6).
Amla added another valuable 38 with Johan Botha (15) before Akhtar dismissed Botha to finish with 3-39.
South Africa were without their captain Graeme Smith for the second match in a row after he hurt his left hand in the first match at Abu Dhabi, which his team won by eight wickets.