JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa coasted to a six-wicket win over Pakistan on Sunday to take the one-day series 3-2 with another match-winning innings by captain AB de Villiers in the decider.
De Villiers hit 95 not out to return three half-centuries and a century in the five games, ensuring South Africa overtook Pakistan's 205 all out and finished its international season at home on a high ahead of the Champions Trophy, the main limited-overs tournament of 2013.
De Villiers' key 87-run partnership with Farhaan Behardien (35) moved South Africa away from signs of trouble at 83-3 and to an eventually easy win at Willowmoore Park in Benoni.
Mohammad Irfan took 2-38 but De Villiers finished with a four through extra cover off Wahab Riaz, his ninth four along with a six, as South Africa went to 208-4 and won with 36 balls to spare.
"It was a great team effort, through and through," De Villiers said. "We got some partnerships together with bat and ball."
Pakistan had twice shown tenacity to fight back and level the series and take it to a winner-takes-all match at the rarely used ground on the eastern outskirts of Johannesburg — it was just the 19th ODI at Willowmoore Park.
In the final game of the tour, Kamran Akmal made 48 when the tourists opted to bat first in the hope of applying pressure on the chasing South Africans. But Pakistan's top and middle order failed to carry the team to a testing total as Akmal, Younis Khan (29), skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (24) and Shoaib Malik (28) all made good starts and didn't go through to big scores.
Allrounder Ryan McLaren took 3-32 for South Africa in a quick burst in the middle of the tourists' innings, and fast bowler Morne Morkel returned from injury with 2-33.
"It was a 250 pitch. Again we didn't show responsibility on the batting side," Misbah said. "They were a better side on the day."
De Villiers did cash in with the bat, finishing unbeaten on 95 off 111 balls to end the series with an average of 91.75 after scores of 65, 4, 128, 75 and 95 not out in the contest. He won the man-of-the-match award and man-of-the-series prize and is starting to thrive in his limited-overs roles of captain, wicketkeeper and top order batsman.
"I am in good form at the moment, but I am still not probably timing it as well as I like to," De Villiers said.
Although it is the world's top-ranked test team after a season of success at home and away, South Africa will only go to June's 50-over Champions Trophy in England as a possible contender, and will undoubtedly be reminded closer to the time of its famously poor history at limited-overs tournaments.
Pakistan just failed to collect a rare ODI series win in South Africa to follow an impressive victory in India, but did take the Twenty20 series 1-0 and pushed the Proteas to the final game of the South African summer in the short form after a slow start to its tour and a 3-0 whitewash in the tests.
"We would have really enjoyed it if we had won this one, but still it was a good series," Misbah said.