Boeta Dippenaar's maiden one-day century proved insufficient to save South Africa on Friday as the tourists surrendered to the extreme pace of Shoaib Akhtar, who led Pakistan to a dramatic eight-run win in their first one-day international.
The match, watched by a full-house of 25,000 at the Gaddafi stadium, saw South Africa restricted to 269 for six as they chased a challenging total of 277 for six.
Requiring 26 in the final two overs, South Africa took 13 in the penultimate over by Akhtar, but Mohammad Sami kept his nerve in the final over, conceding just four runs.
South Africa lost despite two century partnerships posted by Dippenaar, who remained not out on 110 from 131 balls -- his highest one-day score.
Dippenaar, who was drafted in to open the innings after Herschelle Gibbs had to withdraw with a pulled stomach muscle, put on 138 with skipper Graeme Smith, 71 (99 balls, six fours), and 101 from 108 balls with Neil McKenzie 62 (62 balls, five fours).
But in the end it was the 28-year-old Akhtar who had the last laugh, bowling in heavily dewy conditions that were not helpful to either side.
Akhtar broke the opening stand in the 27th over, getting Smith caught at mid-on by Inzamam-ul-Haq -- who took a low catch -- and than bowled Jacques Kallis in the next over.
He returned for his third spell with South Africa requiring 49 in six overs and proceeded to take the wickets of McKenzie and Mark Boucher in the 47th over to bring Pakistan back into the match.
McKenzie started the South Africa slide when he was out caught at deep point by Mohammad Hafeez after they had appeared on course for a win.
But it was a disappointing evening for leg spinner Mushtaq Ahmed, who, playing in his first match for Pakistan since October 2000, returned figures of none for 65.
Earlier allrounder Shoaib Malik produced a stunning innings of 82 from 41 balls to propel Pakistan to an imposing total.
Malik came into bat in the 39th over and took the South African attack apart in the final 10 overs in a spectacular blitz that included six fours and six sixes.
The 21-year-old, playing in his 49th match, reached his half century from just 35 balls with five fours and two sixes.
He hit Pollock and Kallis for two sixes each in the final two overs.
The Pakistan total included half centuries from Yasir Hameed and Yousuf Youhana, but it was Malik who set the crowd alight as Pakistan racked up 105 runs in the final ten overs, and 66 in the last five.
Security concerns had overshadowed the start of the match but the crowd were treated to a fascinating battle between the two sides as South Africa played for the first time in Pakistan since 1998.
Mohammad Hafeez c Dippenaar b Pollock 5
Yasir Hameed run out 56
Yousuf Youhana c Boucher b Hall 68
Younis Khan run out 19
Inzamam-ul Haq b Kallis 37
Shoaib Malik not out 82
Abdul Razzaq c Pollock b Kallis 2
Rashid Latif not out 1.
Extras (lb-4, w-3): 7
Total (for six wickets, 50 overs): 277
Did not bat: Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Sami, Mushtaq Ahmed.
Fall of wickets: 1-18, 2-100, 3-142, 4-167, 5-231, 6-257.
Bowling: Shaun Pollock 10-3-46-1, Makhaya Ntini 3-0-26-0, Jacques Kallis 10-1-53-2 (w-2), Andrew Hall 10-1-53-1 (w-1), Robin Peterson 8-0-40-0, Allan Dawson 9-0-55-0.
G.Smith c Inzamam-ul-Haq b Shoaib Akhtar 71
B.Dippenaar not out 110
J.Kallis b Shoaib Akhtar 1
N.McKenzie c Mohammad Hafeez b Shoaib Akhtar 62
M.Boucher b Shoaib Akhtar 1 S.Pollock c Inzamam-ul-Haq b Mohammad Sami 0 J.Rudolph run out 3 A.Hall not out 0
Extras (b-3, lb-5, w-5, nb-8): 21
Total (for six wickets, 50 overs): 269
Did not bat: R.Peterson, A.Dawson, M.Ntini.
Fall of wickets: 1-138, 2-140, 3-241, 4-244, 5-245, 6-268
Bowling: Shoaib Akhtar 10-0-49-4 (1-nb, 2-w), Mohammad Sami 10-0-44-1 (7-nb), Mushtaq Ahmed 10-0-65-0, Abdul Razzak 5-0-30-0 (1-w), Mohammad Hafeez 5-1-26-0, Shoaib Malik 10-0-47-0
Result: Pakistan won by eight runs.
Second ODI: Oct 5, Lahore
Third ODI: Oct 7, Faisalabad
Fourth ODI: Oct 10, Rawalpindi
Fifth ODI: Oct 12, Rawalpindi.