Two wickets in the first two balls left South Africa in trouble after opting to bat against Pakistan.
South Africa finished their innings against Pakistan in the fourth one-day international on 234-9 after winning the toss and electing to bat.
It could have been so much worse for the home side however when pace bowler Mohammad Irfan continued his fine form in the series by dismissing Hashim Amla with the first ball of the day.
Amla’s replacement at the crease, Colin Ingram, was out the very next ball and South Africa were 0-2 after just two balls from the towering Irfan.
Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers steadied the ship briefly before Smith and Farhaan Behardien both lost their wickets in quick succession leaving the Proteas looking vulnerable on 38-4.
Then the captain led by example, as he did in the previous ODI against the Pakistanis, as he and new man David Miller began to score runs.
Miller plays domestically for the Dolphins in South Africa but was drafted into the one-day side after an injury to Faf du Plessis.
The 23-year-old batsman was making himself noticed to skipper de Villiers as the two men both made it to their half-centuries.
South Africa had made it to 153 runs before losing their fifth wicket, with Miller being trapped lbw by Saeed Ajmal.
It was Ajmal who claimed the next two victims for Pakistan as well, getting the prized scalp of de Villiers (75) and then all-rounder Ryan McLaren (11).
This performance was far from the batting dominance South Africa had shown in the previous ODI, when Amla and de Villiers put on a record 231 runs for the third wicket.
In fact the home side only made three more runs altogether in Durban than Amla and de Villiers made in their partnership in Johannesburg and Pakistan will now be sensing a victory, to tie the series at 2-2 with one match left.