CENTURION: Pakistan batmen Shadab Khan and Mohammad Rizwan run between the wickets as South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo looks on during their first ODI at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday. CENTURION: Pakistan showcased why they are one of the most unpredictable cricket teams on Friday as they nearly lost to South Africa after being in the driver’s seat for the most part of the 1st ODI of a 3-match series in Centurion. Babar Azam hit a hundred and Imamul Haq a fine fifty but the visitors huffed and puffed past the finish line in the last-over thriller by three wickets at the SuperSport Park. Pakistan needed just 3 runs in the final over. However, there was plenty of drama as Andile Phehlukwayo nearly delivered a miracle for South Africa. Pakistan’s Faheem Ashraf played out 4 dot balls before holding his nerve to hit the winning runs in a thrilling finish in the series opener. Pakistan were cruising towards a 274-run target despite losing opener Fakhar Zaman (8) as early as the 3rd over. Captain Babar Azam (103) and Imam-ul-Haq (70) added 177 runs for the 2nd wicket as the two batsmen showcased their wide range of strokes. Babar was at his elegant best, hitting 17 boundaries in another of his eye-catching knocks. Babar’s 13th ODI hundred put Pakistan in a position of strength at the 30-over mark. However, the skipper fell to Anrich Nortje in the 32nd over, triggering a collapse. With Imam falling in the 34th over to Nortje, Pakistan slipped from 193 for 2 to 203 for 5 as the likes of Danish Aziz (3) and Abid Ali (2) failed to trouble the scorers much. However, wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan (40) and all-rounder Shadab Khan (33) stitched a 53-run stand for the 6th wicket to take Pakistan closer to the target. But South Africa did not give up. With some fine death-bowling, the Proteas pulled things back and put the pressure back on Pakistan, who needed 14 runs from the last 2 overs. An ordinary over from Lungi Ngidi made sure Pakistan got out of the jail as they collected 11 runs from the 49th over before the dramatic final over. “To be honest, when the wickets fell I was nervous and the pressure was on with that Nortje spell, and he bowled extremely well. Hopefully, we will learn from our mistakes. We need to take the confidence from this win into the next game and hopefully close the series,” Pakistan captain Babar said after the win. Earlier in the day, Rassie van der Dussen hit his maiden ODI hundred (123 from 134 balls) after the likes of Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock and captain Temba Bavuma failed to get going. A handy fifty from David Miller and a lower-order contribution from Andile Phehlukwayo (29) helped South Africa post 273 in their quota of 50 overs. Shaheen Afridi (2-61) and Haris Rauf (2./72) picked up 2 wickets each but it was Faheem Ashraf (1-25 in 9 overs) and Mohammad Hasnain (1-52) who put the brakes on South Africa’s scoring rate. Having won the opening match, Pakistan will be looking to seal an unbeatable 2-0 lead when they face South Africa on Sunday in Johannesburg. The two teams will also play 4 T20Is between April 10 and 16 after the completion of the ODI series.