South Africa overcame the absence of the injured Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn with a vastly improved performance by their bowlers here on Monday night that has almost certainly eliminated Pakistan from the ICC Champions Trophy after defeats the first two of their three group matches
It had been thought the outcome would hinge on the battle between South Africa's batsmen and Pakistan's bowlers but while there was a feeling South Africa had fallen below par by making only 234, pitch conditions were similar to those encountered by England and Australia on Saturday, the surface yielding runs slowly at first only to become even more grudging as the contest progressed.
The Pakistan captain, Misbah ul-Haq, added a half-century to an outstanding performance in the field but could not inspire his side to finish even close. Ultimately Ryan McLaren, the former Kent all-rounder who had worked on the Edgbaston groundstaff during a stint in the Birmingham League, finished them off for 167, taking four wickets for five runs in his last 11 balls.
Where they had fed India too many easy runs by persistently bowling short in Saturday's defeat in Cardiff, South Africa's seamers hit much more testing lengths this time. Restricted to just 18 runs in the first 10 overs, during which Lonwabo Tsotsobe barely bowled a wasteful delivery and Chris Morris, the right-arm seamer, struck twice on his ODI debut, Pakistan were always well behind the pace and the explosive innings that might have changed things never materialised.
South Africa had not been able to capitalise to anything like the degree they will feel they should have on Hashim Amla's 81, pinned down first by the testing accuracy of Mohammad Irfan and Junaid Khan and then strangled by Pakistan's trio of spinners. Their 36 from the first 10 overs seemed modest, and 51 from the last 10 a pretty poor effort, but in the end it was more than enough.
Pakistan would argue that luck favoured Amla, who had made only seven when he slashed at a short, wide ball from Irfan but was dropped by Umar Amin, at backward point. On the other hand, the South African total might have been bigger without the inept run-outs that cost them whatever A B de Villiers or J P Duminy might have added. Misbah executed both in almost identical circumstances, each time dismissing a non-striker left stranded by a cancelled call for a single.
Amla's innings ended when Mohammad Hafeez, running in from third man, dived to pull off a low catch when he reverse swept Saeed Ajmal. What followed looked like an opportunity wasted but after Morris uprooted Imran Farhat's off stump with his fifth ball, one misfortune after another befell Pakistan.
Hafeez miscued a pull against Morris to be caught at square leg, Shoaib Malik jammed a ball into the ground from off-spinner Duminy only for it to roll back into his stumps and then Nasir Jamshed was caught by Tsotsobe in his follow-through. Pakistan's match with India here on Saturday is a sell-out, but for one half of the crowd will not be the occasion they were hoping for.