Saeed Ajmal starred with the ball as Pakistan drubbed South Africa by 11 runs to keep alive their slender hopes of qualifying for the semifinals of the Twenty20 World Cup at St Lucia on Monday.
Though Pakistan posted a modest 148 for seven from their 20 overs, their spinners, Ajmal (4 for 26) and Abdur Rehman (2 for 35) drew a web around the South African batsmen to pull off a stunning win in their last Super Eight match that eliminated the Proteas from the tournament.
Chasing 149, South Africa never got the momentum going and could only manage 137 for seven with AB de Villers (53) as their topscorer.
The defending champions had lost two of their Super Eights matches in Group E and were on the brink of being ousted from the tournament.
But they bounced back today and produced some outstanding cricket to haul themselves back into the championship.
If England defeat New Zealand later in the day, Pakistan will play Australia in the semifinals as they have a better net run-rate (+0.041) than the Kiwis (-0.300).
Ajmal was the man of the moment. The off-spinner bowled intelligently to lure the South African batsmen to their doom.
He accounted for the scalps of Jacques Kallis (22), de Villiers (53), Mark Boucher (12) and Johan Botha (19) to record his career-best T20 international figures.
Left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman had done the early damage by removing skipper Graeme Smith and J P Duminy to set panic in the South African camp.
The victory would not have been possible with the efforts of the Akmal brothers Kamran (37) and Ukmal (51) -- who rose to the challenge to take the fight into the South African camp, producing 41 runs for fourth wicket to rejuvenate the innings which looked crippled at 18 for three.
Given the platform by the dashing Lahore brothers, skipper Shahid Afridi (30) cut loose to make a blistering 18-ball 30 while raising 61 quick-fire runs for the sixth wicket.
Umar made 51 off just 33 balls, slamming four sixes and two boundaries. But his exit and that of Afridi close on his heels, brought the South Africans back into the game.
Charl Langevedlt (4 for 19) struck four successive blows in the death overs to restrict the defending champions.
But in the end, Ajmal stole the thunder.