Mohammad Rizwan struck an unbeaten 74 as Pakistan beat the Proteas by four wickets in the first T20I in Johannesburg on Saturday.
In another thrilling clash between the two teams, it was the visitors who once again got over the line in the final over.
The Proteas handed debuts to Wihan Lubbe, Sisanda Magala and Lizaad Williams as stand-in captain Heinrich Klaasen opted to bat first at the Bullring.
Janneman Malan struck a few early sixes but was trapped in front for 24 before Lubbe fell for only four.
Aiden Markram was in good nick and raced to his maiden T20I half-century, sharing a 50-run stand with Klaasen in the process. Markram, though, departed for 50 when he became Mohammad Nawaz’s second scalp of the day.
Klaasen and Pite van Biljon combined for a half-century stand of their own as the captain reached his 50 off only 24 deliveries before falling to Hasan Ali.
Van Biljon added 34, while George Linde made four as the Proteas reached 188-6 in their allotted 20 overs.
It was a steady start to the run chase by Pakistan openers Babar Azam and Muhammad Rizwan. Beuran Hendricks made the important breakthrough when Williams took a sharp catch on the boundary to dismiss the captain.
The dangerous Fakhar Zaman came to the crease and found the boundary on a few occasions, but he fell to a brilliant piece of fielding from Janneman Malan, who juggled the ball back in play on the boundary for a sharp catch off Tabraiz Shamsi’s bowling.
Shamsi then bagged his second when Mohammed Hafeez was stumped by Klaasen for 13. Rizwan, though, battled on to reach another half-century against the Proteas in the shorter format. But, he began to run out of partners when Hendricks picked up two wickets in two balls – Haider Ali trapped in front for 14, while Nawaz nicked one behind for a golden duck.
Rizwan swung the momentum back in the visitors’ favour in the final few overs with Hendricks, in particular, taking a beating in the 18th.
Faheem Ashraf added to the onslaught with two boundaries off Sisanda Magala in the penultimate over that left 11 runs required from the final six balls.
Williams was left with the responsibility of bowling the final over and, after a dropped catch off the first ball of the over, he struck back immediately by clean bowling Ashraf for 30.
Hassan Ali, though, managed to find the boundary off the following delivery before scampering through for two runs leaving three from two.
Ali then guided Pakistan home with one delivery remaining in the match. The second T20I will take place on Monday at the Wanderers.
Proteas: Janneman Malan, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen (c), Pite van Biljon, Wihan Lubbe, Andile Phehlukwayo, George Linde, Beuran Hendricks, Sisanda Magala, Lizaad Williams, Tabraiz Shamsi.
Pakistan: Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Haider Ali, Muhammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Usman Qadir, Haris Rauf.