Desperate to win in order to stay alive in the competition, the unpredictable Asian side recovered from losing four early wickets to post a strong 185 for nine after winning the toss and batting.
There was a welcome return to form by captain Temba Bavuma during the reply after he top-scored with 36 off 19 balls. But two quick wickets on the stroke of a rain break altered the trajectory of the chase.
PROTEAS FIGHT BACK BUT FALL
When they returned, South Africa were set a revised 142 in 14 overs. Meaning they needed 73 off 30 balls from their position of 69 for four at the time. That proved too tall an ask for the middle order and the tail as they faded to end on 108 for nine.
It was their first defeat in Australia and it meant they missed out on becoming the first team to reach the semi-finals of the competition. Instead, they must now win their final match against the Netherlands in Adelaide on Sunday to secure a ticket into the last four.
But it should have been much better for Bavuma and his charges after they started the clash brilliantly at the SCG.
Key opener Mohammad Rizwan (4) was bowled by Wayne Parnell. This was before Mohammad Haris, who lashed a quick-fire 28 off 11 balls, was one of three men to fall within the space of 12 balls. The other two being Babar Azam (6) and Shan Masood (2) as Anrich Nortje (4/41) struck twice.
That left Pakistan in a hole on 43 for four. But half centuries by Iftikhar Ahmed (51 off 35 balls, 3 fours, 2 sixes) and Shadab Khan together with 28 from Mohammad Nawaz vaulted their side to an excellent 186 target.
THE CHASE RUN CHASE
The Proteas started the chase poorly by losing Quinton de Kock (0) and Rilee Rossouw (7) within the first three overs. But Bavuma struck four boundaries and a six to keep them in the hunt alongside Aiden Markran (20). It was 65 for two at the start of the eight over when both fell within three Shadab deliveries to leave the South Africans short on the DLS table.
Heinrich Klaasen (15) and Tristan Stubbs (18) did their best to cut loose after the resumption. But Pakistan’s powerful attack struck regularly to give Pakistan a lifeline and leave the Proteas with work to do in order to progress from Group 2.