Cape Town – O Proteas produced by far their most complete performance of the entire series as they traveled to a seven-wicket win with 10 overs to save on the final ODI against Pakistan in Newlands tonight.
How it happened: Proteas v Pakistan, 5th ODI
The result gave them a general win in the 3-2 series over the holders of the ICC Champions Trophy and it was the fourth straight consecutive after their recent successes against Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Australia.
Appropriately, this was the 50th victory of Proteas over Pakistan in ODI format.
The victory was also significant with regard to the prospects of the ICC Cricket World Cup, as the Proteas made significant changes in both the XI and the tactics of the day.
They played all three batters – Wiaan Mulder, Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo – in their squad, in an attempt to shorten the suspicion of their low order, although, as things turned out, none of them were necessary in that discipline.
That meant David Miller, from his top six in the rankings, had to let the game go.
What he did, though, was giving the Proteas a six-man attack for the first time in the series, and with it, the flexibility that allowed Faf du Plessis to vary their tactics effectively.
He opened the bowling with Imran Tahir and used his attackers on the front line extensively in the first half of the turn in Pakistan with Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada bowling in 7 of the first 26.
The all-rounders also played their part, sharing five wickets between them with Phehlukwayo passing the milestone of 50 layoffs in the process.
Pakistan had the same problem with batters who plagued them for most of their tour, with wickets falling at regular intervals and only a partnership being posted in excess of 50 races.
Fakhar Zaman, benefiting from a life at age 20, made the best score of 70 on his team (73 balls, 10 fours).
Pakistan's total of 240 seemed to be on the light side and thus proved to be how the Proteas struck solidly throughout its top order, triggered by the first significant knock of Kock's Quinton series (83 of 58 balls, 11 f 3 six).
Like Fakhar, he had his stroke of luck when he was caught in the covers in 12, only to be overlooked by a reference without a ball.
He and Hashim Amla made 39 for the first wicket and were followed by 61, 46 and finally an uninterrupted 95 between Du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen.
Both scouts have reached their half-centuries with Van der Dussen finishing as South Africa's top scorer in a magnificent debut series.
Proteas will also be encouraged by the fact that they have played with efficiency and confidence with the Pakistani spinner – another important indicator looking at the World Cup.
De Kock was chosen the best of the match and Imam-ul-Haq, the man of the series, for being the highest scorer.
Pakistan 240/8 in 50 overs (Fakhar 70, Phehlukwayo 2/42)
South Africa 241/3 in 40 overs (De Kock 83, Shaheen Shah Afridi 1/34)
South Africa won by 7 wickets
Play: South Africa