Third one-day international, Dubai:
South Africa 228-9 beat Pakistan 226-9 by two runs
South Africa narrowly avoided a second successive last-over defeat by Pakistan as they won a thrilling third one-day international in Dubai.
Chasing a South African total of 228 - built largely around Hashim Amla's unbeaten 119 - Pakistan were initially stifled but fought back superbly.
Fawad Alam's 59 looked to have swung the game in their favour late on.
But Saeed Ajmal was bowled by the penultimate ball and Shoaib Akhtar could not hit the four needed to win.
Two days ago in Abu Dhabi, a sensational 109 in 72 balls from Abdul Razzaq steered Pakistan to an unlikely one-wicket victory in the second one-day international.
It appeared as though the less likely source of Alam was about to do the same for his side at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
The 25-year-old may have started slowly, but he accelerated in the third and final power play to put his side on the brink of a victory that would put them 2-1 ahead in the five-game series.
However, needing 12 runs from the final over, Alam was prevented from hitting boundaries.
When he lost partner Ajmal it left last man Akhtar with the difficult task of hitting a boundary off the bowling of Rusty Theron, and it was a feat that proved beyond him.
It was a finale few would have envisaged halfway through the Pakistan response, as some economical South African bowling - most notably superb opening spells from Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe - prevented the innings gaining any momentum.
At the end of the 10th over, Pakistan had lost both opener Mohammad Hafeez and his replacement Younis Khan and the total stood at just 23.
Hafeez's opening partner Farhat (47) and Asad Shafiq (43) were able to occupy the crease, but provided little impetus to the innings and when the former was run out, Pakistan were 130 runs shy of the South African total with 22 overs remaining.
Alam's late-innings hitting almost won the game for Pakistan
The loss of one of their potential big-hitting, lower-order match-winners, Shahid Afridi - caught behind off the bowling of Morkel - dealt a further significant blow to Pakistan's hopes.
When Razzaq also fell - caught behind off Jacques Kallis - with the run rate edging towards nine an over, the writing appeared to be on the wall, until the efforts of Alam, ably assisted by Wahab Riaz (21 off 11 balls).
South Africa will be grateful to the bowling of Morkel, who finished with 4-47 from his allotted overs, but they will be even more indebted to Amla, who was the only Proteas batsman able to negotiate a difficult, slow surface in Dubai.
The right-handed opener batted from start to finish to score 119 off 126 balls and register the fifth one-day century of what has been an extremely productive year for the 27-year-old.
JP Duminy (26), AB De Villiers (19), Albie Morkel (19) and Johan Botha (15) were the only other South African batsmen to make double figures, while Akhtar - with 3-39 - was the pick of a strong Pakistan bowling display, which also saw Afridi and Hafeez collect two wickets apiece.
South Africa take their 2-1 series lead into Friday's fourth one-day international, also to be played in Dubai.
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