Makhaya Ntini produced a lethal spell of fast bowling to hand South Africa a crushing 124-run victory over Pakistan in a Group B match of the ICC Champions Trophy at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium, in Mohali, on Friday.
In a fiery opening spell, the 29-year-old fast bowler destroyed the top order, claiming five wickets for 21 runs, as Pakistan were bowled out for 89 in 25 overs.
He was deservedly named the man of the match, as South Africa sealed a place in the semi-finals.
Electing to bat first, South Africa posted a competitive 213 for 8 after being reduced to 42 for 5 at one stage.
Mark Boucher and Justin Kemp led South Africa's revival with a 130-run partnership for the sixth wicket. Boucher counter-attacked in style, with a brisk innings of 69 from 98, while Kemp contributed with a vital knock of 64.
In reply, the Pakistani batsmen never found their footing as the top order crumbled against Ntini's pace and swing.
South Africa, who finished top of Group B, will now face the second-placed team from Group A in the second-semi-final, in Jaipur on November 2.
New Zealand is the other team from Group B to enter the last four.
Sri Lanka and Pakistan have been knocked out of the tournament.
South Africa innings:
Graeme Smith's decision to bat first was quite strange, if you consider the early seam movement and dew factor later on. In the earlier matches played at Mohali, the team winning the toss had no hesitation in electing to field first. But South Africa had other ideas, or so it seemed.
South Africa were made to pay heavily right at the start, as they lost two wickets in the opening over by Umar Gul. First captain Smith was trapped plumb leg before wicket off the second ball of the innings.
Opener Herschelle Gibbs's poor run in the tournament continued when he edged a wide out-swinging delivery from Gul to Shoaib Malik at first slip.
Gibbs has now scored just 16 runs in the three innings he played, including two ducks.
The fast bowlers -- Gul and Iftikhar Anjum -- continued to prosper, as the pitch offered a lot of movement and bounce. South Africa's batsmen, who have been brought up playing on such fast pitches, continued to struggle as the ball beat the edge time and again.
While Gul picked wickets, Iftikhar Anjum kept up the pressure from the other end. He bowled with great discipline and didn't concede a single run in his first three overs. His persistence paid off when he got the wicket of Dippenaar, for 13, in his fifth over.
Wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal completed a brilliant catch, diving full length to his right and holding the ball just in front of first slip. South Africa had slipped to 27 for 3 in the 10th over.
Anjum then dismissed Jacques Kallis caught behind for 17 in his next over.
The Pakistani pacers were having a feast out in the middle. Yasir Arafat didn't take time to strike as he got AB de Villiers caught behind in his second over for 10.
South Africa were reeling at 42 for 5 after 13 overs; it was their worst top order collapse against Pakistan. They earlier faced a similar scenario in 1994-95, when they were reduced to 44 for 5 at Kingsmead, Durban.
But Boucher and Kemp led South Africa's superb revival with a solid partnership for the sixth wicket
Boucher, particularly, played in his natural aggressive mode irrespective of the early fall of wickets. Once the striker bowlers were off, the part-time Pakistan bowlers failed to make an impression.
Boucher cruised to his half-century, his third against Pakistan, off 73 balls, inclusive of six boundaries, in the 36th over. South Africa were 150 for 5 after 39 overs, with both Boucher (60) and Kemp (36) looking comfortable.
Boucher was out after a vital innings of 68. He tried to pull Abdul Razzaq but the top edge went to Mohammad Hafeez at point.
The South African wicketkeeper hit seven boundaries in his 98-ball knock, and added 130 runs for the sixth wicket with Kemp to help his team recover after the loss of early wickets.
Kemp adjusted brilliantly to the situation and proved the perfect foil for Boucher. He reached his half-century in the 45th over off 94 balls in the 45th over.
The 29-year-old fell in the final over the innings as he tried to loft Gul over long-on. He was caught by Malik for 64 off 110 deliveries, including four boundaries and two sixes.
Andre Nel (12 off 10 balls) hit a few boundaries in the final over as South Africa finished on 213 for 8 in their 50 overs.
Gul emerged the most successful bowler, taking 3 for 36 in his eight overs. Surprisingly, he was not used for his full quota of 10 overs, considering the damage he did in his opening few overs. Anjum used the conditions superbly early on, taking 2 for 26 in his 10 overs.
South Africa must be really delighted that they now have a competitive total to defend after that horrific start. The pitch looks a bit green and they will now hope their pacers re-produce the showing in their previous match against Sri Lanka when they faced a similar scenario.
Batting first, they scored 219 for 9, and then the seamers took centrestage to bundle out the Sri Lankans for 141.
On the other hand, Pakistan will be hoping that their openers can play out the opening few overs, when batting will be most difficult.
The pitch was still helping the pacers a great deal and it was no surprise when South Africa struck early.
Mohammad Hafeez edged straight to Smith at first slip off a perfectly pitched out-swinging delivery from Ntini for 3 in the second over.
Imran Farhat (4) seemed to have learnt nothing from his dismissal in the last match. Once again he offered the third man fielder a simple catch, attempting the cut shot off Ntini. He had fallen in the same way in the previous match against New Zealand.
Shaun Pollock's incoming delivery crashed through the defences of Mohammad Yousuf to uproot the off-stump. Yousuf, who scored 5, walked back in disbelief, looking back at the replays on the giant screen on his way back.
The procession of Pakistani batsmen continued. Younis Khan tried to play a reckless pull shot off a short delivery but ended up holing to the mid-wicket fielder off Ntini for 7.
The Pakistan captain failed miserably in the series, scoring just 16 runs in the three matches. It seemed that with his wicket Pakistan's chances also disappeared.
Shoaib Malik was caught behind off Ntini to a magical catch from Boucher. The South African wicketkeeper dived full length to his left and completed a brilliant one-handed catch.
After just eight overs, Pakistan had lost half their side and were reduced to 22 for 5. The fact that South Africa had four frontline pacers meant that it was less likely that the Pakistani batsmen could replicate what Boucher and Kemp did.
Ntini took his fifth wicket of the innings, trapping Kamran Akmal leg before wicket in his fifth over. This was Ntini's fourth five-wicket haul in his 134th one-dayer and his first against Pakistan. His first spell of 5 for 21 from 6 overs had single-handedly destroyed the Pakistanis.
Shahid Afridi gave Pakistani fans something to cheer about with a four and a six off Ntini in the 12th over. But the very next over, he was dismissed leg before wicket by Pollock for 14.
Even the medium pace of Charl Langeveldt was too hot to handle on this pitch. He struck in his first over, bowling Abdul Razzaq (5), to reduce Pakistan to a hapless 47 for 8 in the 15th over.
Once Ntini had destroyed the top order with a fiery opening spell of 5 for 21, there was no way back for Pakistan.
The tail-enders caved in without much of a fight as South Africa were bowled out Pakistan for 89 in 25 overs.
Yasir Arafat, who scored 27, was the only batsmen to offer some bit of resistance.
Langeveldt cleaned up the tail to finish with 3 for 20 in his six overs. Pollock (2 for 20) was the other wicket-taker for South Africa.
None of the top seven batsmen failed to cross double digit scores as Pakistan surrendered pretty tamely. This was their lowest total in ODIs against South Africa. Their previous lowest was 109 all out at Johhanesburg in 1995.
This was also the lowest total at Mohali, erasing Sri Lanka's 122 all out against India in 2005-06.