Legspinner Imran Tahir ripped through Pakistan's batting order with figures of 4 for 53 to spur South Africa to a convincing 68-run victory in the third one-day international on Wednesday.
Chasing a formidable 260-run total, Pakistan were bowled out for 191 in 44.3 overs with Tahir claiming the key wickets of Misbah-ul-Haq (19), Asad Shafiq (11) and Umar Akmal (7). Victory gave the Proteas a 2-1 lead in the five-match series with fourth match on Friday at the same Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
JP Duminy (64) and Faf du Plessis (55) grafted half-centuries as South Africa reached 259 for 8 after captain AB de Villiers won the toss and elected to bat.
Pakistan made an ideal start to their run chase when Ahmad Shehzad (32) and Mohammad Hafeez (15) added a brisk 50 off 49 balls before both perished in the space of two runs. Dale Steyn, returning after a week's rest back home, put the brakes on when Shehzad edged to Hashim Amla at slip and du Plessis caught Hafeez low at point off Morne Morkel.
Misbah and Umar Amin (13) added 34 runs that included 15 off Tahir's first over before seamer Lonwabo Tsotsobe started the slide by inducing a faint edge off Amin's bat. After Tahir hurried through the middle order, Ryan McLaren virtually put the seal on the game by having Shahid Afridi (7) trapped leg before wicket, reducing Pakistan to 116 for 7.
Top-scorer Wahab Riaz (33) and Sohail Tanvir (31) delayed the inevitable by adding 61 runs off 70 balls for the eighth wicket stand before Pakistan were bowled out with more than five overs to spare with Tahir returning to have Saeed Ajmal lbw.
Earlier, Duminy successfully overturned a caught behind decision on 3 and went on to score 64 off 89 balls while du Plessis ended his run-drought by hitting 55 with eight fours in his first half-century in 11 ODIs.
Quinton de Kock scored 40 and made up for the loss of opening batsman Graeme Smith, who was ruled out for the remainder of the five-match series due to a head injury during the drawn test series.
Mohammad Irfan (3 for 46) gave Pakistan an early breakthrough when Amla made only 10 in his return match before he was clean bowled off a full length delivery. Amla had flown home after the first Test last month to be with his wife for the birth of his second child.
But de Kock and du Plessis brought the innings back on track with a 77-run stand off 93 balls before Afridi (2 for 40) struck in successive overs and had both batsmen stumped.
The Proteas enjoyed some luck. First, Duminy successfully reviewed the caught behind decision off Irfan, and then the fast bowler could not grab a return one-handed catch off de Villiers when the batsman was on 2.
Offspinner Ajmal (2 for 37) bowled well in the batting powerplay as de Villiers pulled a short delivery straight to Mohammad Hafeez at deep fine leg. Duminy held the innings together before he was caught at short midwicket by Misbah in the penultimate over of the innings.
Irfan took two wickets in the last over but not before Ryan McLaren hit the paceman for a six and a four.