With the series level at 2-2 heading into the fifth ODI between the sides, the stage was set for a thrilling finale to a hotly contested series. South Africa won the toss and elected to bowl, and the decision reaped immediate rewards as Dale Steyn bounced out Imam-ul-Haq for 8.
Pakistan recovered through Fakhar Zaman who struck a brisk 70, a return to form after the opener had gone 10 international innings without a half-century. Babar Azam and Mohammad Hafeez only made starts, with the former bowled by Dwaine Pretorius for 24 and the latter gloving an Andile Phehlukwayo short ball to the keeper for 17, but they offered Zaman vital support, and helped their side lay a strong platform.
Phehlukwayo struck the key blow, removing Zaman with another short ball, the batsman top-edging to fine-leg where Imran Tahir just clung on and stayed inside the ropes, and after his departure, Pakistan stalled. None of Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Rizwan, standing in as captain and keeper for the suspended Sarfaraz Ahmed respectively, or Shadab Khan could get going, and ate up deliveries while contributing little in the way of runs.
Rizwan attempted to break the shackles, coming down the track to Pretorius and only succeeding in top-edging to de Kock, Malik was run out after a mix-up with Shadab, while Shadab became the fifth Pakistani to be undone by the short ball, picking out Rassie van der Dussen at short midwicket with a pull shot.
Imad Wasim did his best to inject some late impetus, striking four fours and two sixes in his unbeaten 31-ball 47, but Pakistan’s eventual 240/8 still looked below par.
Nevertheless, de Kock made it look positively puny, demonstrating his full array of strokes as South Africa raced to 145/2 after 20 overs, brushing off the losses of Hashim Amla, who nicked off to Shaheen Afridi, and Reeza Hendricks, who toe-ended a cut shot off Mohammad Amir, giving Shaheen a catch at third man.
Pakistan might have retained some hope when de Kock finally fell for 83, getting into a tangle trying to pull a short ball and lobbing a catch to Hassan Ali, but captain Faf du Plessis and the unflappable Rassie van der Dussen saw out the remainder of the chase with little alarm. Both ended unbeaten on exactly 50 – for van der Dussen the third half-century in his first four ODI knocks – as South Africa won by seven wickets with exactly 10 overs to spare to seal the series honours.