Dwaine Pretorius took a five-for to break Pakistan’s spine, before Reeza Hendicks and Pite van Biljon dealt the death blow with a 77-run partnership in a six-wicket victory that kept the Proteas in the series.
It now all comes down to the final T20I on Sunday and, on the evidence of this performance, the Proteas will take all the momentum into that contest.
Their recovery from an ordinary first match must be commended. There was just so much right, and so little wrong, with their showing against a dangerous T20I unit.
The bulk of the plaudits must go to Pretorius, who excelled with the ball, taking 5-17 – the best-ever bowling performance for the Proteas in T20I history.
Deployed as an opening bowler in partnership with spinner JJ Smuts, and later as a mid-innings foil, Pretorius never put a foot wrong. His control on an unforgiving wicket was exceptional, while his broad range of skills gave him a degree of unpredictability that proved too difficult for Pakistan to negotiate.
Critically, he removed the dangerous Mohammad Rizwan (51), but it would be remiss not to credit those who bowled in partnership with him. The unrelenting pressure between overs 10 and 15 forced Pakistan to take risks and soon they found themselves struggling at 79-5.
However, the Proteas’ inability to kill off the lower order on this tour cost them once more. The tourists conceded 48 runs in the last five overs, Pakistan finishing on 144-7, as Faheem Ashraf (30 off 12 balls) drove the hosts to a competitive target.
The Proteas’ run chase got off to the worst possible start when Janneman Malan was bowled off the second ball of the innings. Smuts followed soon after, needlessly trying to clear mid-off, but only succeeding in hitting it straight to the fielder.
However, Hendricks and Van Biljon took control of the innings thereafter. The pair counter-attacked with skill, discipline and composure, and, critically, were brutal on Pakistan’s spinners.
Usman Qadir, so effective in the first match, conceded 29 runs off his first two overs. He did deceive Van Biljon to get him stumped in the 20s, but television replays showed the spinner had overstepped. It was deflating, especially when trying to defend a ball-par score.
The duo got the equation to 53 off 60 deliveries at the halfway mark, but Hendricks miscued an attempted aerial shot, holing out to mid-on. Van Biljon followed soon thereafter, chipped the ball back to the bowler meekly in a momentary lapse of concentration.
There would have been nervous jitters in the Proteas change room and among some of their fans, but David Miller and Heinrich Klaassen finished the innings decisively, setting up a winner-takes-all game on Sunday.