Pakistan records its first series win against South Africa

Fortunes fluctuated till the very end before Pakistan managed a draw against South Africa in the second Test, for their first ever series (1-0) win against the Proteas.

RIZWAN EHSAN ALI

Fortunes fluctuated till the very end before Pakistan managed a draw against South Africa in the second Test, for their first ever series (1-0) win against the Proteas.

The jubilant Pakistan team with the trophy. -- Pic. AP-

Both the teams had their chances at the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad. Pakistan, chasing 302 for victory, were going nicely at 208 for four with Inzamam-ul-Haq and Abdul Razzaq moving towards the target in the last 18 overs.

However, the departure of Inzamam and Razzaq of successive deliveries swung the pendulum in South Africa's way. Had Gary Kirsten taken Shoaib Malik at deep fine leg, a difficult catch, Pakistan would have been 219 for seven and South Africa had 16 more overs left to go for a victory and thereby would have levelled the series. However, the experienced Moin Khan (nine off 46 balls) and Malik stayed put and ensured Pakistan a 1-0 victory in the series.

South Africa had a disastrous start, after Smith won the toss and decided to bat first on a flat slow track.

Shoaib Akhtar's replacement Shabbir Ahmad removed captain Smith (2) and Boeta Dippenaar (4) in his first spell. Then leg-spinner Danish Kaneria picked up the wicket of Jacques Kallis (10). South Africa lost the top three batsmen within the first hour with only 40 runs on the board. However, Herschelle Gibbs and Kirsten steadied the innings with a 108-run stand. Kirsten, who carried his bat at the same venue when South Africa beat Pakistan during their last visit in 1997-98 season, made 54 with seven boundaries before he was caught by Taufeeq Umar who took his third catch of the innings.

On a slow wicket, Gibbs showed his solid defence against spinner Kaneria and was comfortable against two seamers Abdul Razzaq and Shabbir. He reached his half-century before lunch off 99 balls and took another 119 deliveries for his next 48 runs.

Taufeeq Umar and Imran Farhat had a jolly good time with the bat. Farhat made 128 and Umar 68, and their opening stand fetched 137 for Pakistan in the first innings. — Pic. REUTERS-

Veteran leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed got the wicket of Gibbs, when the right-hander played across the line and was plumb in front of the wicket. Gibbs' innings included 13 fours and a six and he stayed at the wicket for 273 minutes for his 219-ball innings of 98.

Shabbir returned for his second spell in the last hour of the day's play and removed Neil McKenzie (27), Robin Peterson (4) and brilliantly dismissed Shaun Pollock (16), running the batsman out of his follow through. South Africa slumped from five for 195 to 256 for nine at stumps.

Pakistan's young left-handed opening pair of Taufeeq Umar and Imran Farhat had a century stand, for the third successive time, on the second day after South Africa were bowled out for 278 with Shabbir Ahmed claiming four for 74. Taufeeq who was in good nick, followed his innings of 111 and 63 in the first Test with another responsible knock of 68. Although Pollock, Ntini and Kallis bowled well, the left-arm spinner Robin Peterson was hammered out of the attack by the Pakistani left-handers. The spinner conceded 40 off his eight overs.

Both Taufeeq and Imran scored nearly three an over before Paul Adams finally broke the stand of 137 when Taufeeq departed in the 48th over of the innings.

Farhat completed his maiden Test century in the last session with 14 boundaries. South Africa just managed one more wicket in the last session. Yasir Hameed (21) became Pollock's first victim as Pakistan finished the day at a 237 for two with Farhat unbeaten on 123 and captain Inzamam on 16.

Pakistan's hopes of a substantial first innings lead evaporated on the third morning once Smith took the second new ball in the second over of the day.

Pollock claimed three wickets in space of 21 deliveries while Ntini chipped in with two. Farhat could add just five to his overnight score before he mistimed a pull shot off Pollock to give Peterson a dolly catch at square leg while Inzamam was trapped leg before by Pollock, the ball cutting in sharply.

Razzaq's 37 and Shabbir's unbeaten 24 with four boundaries helped Pakistan to gain a 70-run lead as Pollock finished with six for 78. Pakistan were dismissed for 348.

Smith led the South African fightback with a gritty half century, his first in the last 10 Test innings, since scoring a double century against England at Lord's in July. The visitors stretched their lead to 70 by close, but Pakistan once again removed the top three batsmen before stumps.

Gibbs and Dippenaar were trapped leg before. Then Shabbir got the key wicket of Smith for 65 off 115 balls.

Kirsten was shaping up well for a big knock with an unbeaten 27 as South Africa finished the day at 140 for three. Kirsten and McKenzie extended the South African lead to 140 with an 85-run third wicket partnership. Kirsten completed his 50 off 93 balls, but McKenzie departed just before lunch to give Kaneria his second wicket of the innings.

Gary Kirsten was as soild as ever with a fine 118 in South Africa's second innings. He also came up with 54 in the first essay. — Pic. GETTY IMAGES-

Kirsten completed his 19th Test century off 216 balls with 11 boundaries. Razzaq picked up three quick wickets in the second session, after Kaneria bowled a marathon unchanged spell of 27 overs for 64 runs.

Razzaq had Kirsten caught in the slips by Taufeeq for 118 and then knocked back Boucher's off stump off successive deliveries and then trapped Kallis leg before for 43 to reduce South Africa to 325 for seven, a lead of 255 runs.

However, an unbeaten 30 off 62 balls by Pollock helped Smith to declare the innings late in the afternoon, once South Africa reached 371 for eight which gave them an overall lead of 301 runs. Both the Pakistan openers survived tense six overs in the afternoon.

Needing 294 in 94 overs on the last day, Pakistan crawled to 63 for the loss of Imran and Yasir's wicket by lunch. Taufeeq scored his third half-century of the series off 147 balls, with eight fours in the second session and put on 79 runs with Inzamam in 109 minutes.

However, an upppish drive off Peterson brought curtains on Taufeeq 's 71-run knock, spanned over four hours. Earlier Boucher let him off, spilling a sharp chance.

Inzamam also had a lucky escape when Gibbs floored him at point soon after Taufeeq's dismissal. He added 62 runs with Asim Kamal (38). Asim, who missed his century by just one run in his debut Test at Lahore against the Proteas, got a thin edge off Adams and departed. This gave South Africa a glimmer of hope at 187 for four.

Herschelle Gibbs missed a century by a whisker in South Africa's first innings. -- Pic. GETTY IMAGES-

Inzamam and Razzaq broke the shackles and Pakistan seemed to be going for the victory.

South Africa took the second new ball with Pakistan requiring 100 runs with six wickets in hand with 20 overs left. Immediately Inzamam (60 off 144 balls) fell leg before to Ntini and Razzaq misjudged Pollock's straight delivery and his off stump was uprooted.

With Pakistan at 209 for six, Kirsten dropped a hard chance off Shoaib Malik at deep fine leg. However, Moin Khan proved a stumbling block with a responsible nine runs. Finally the home team finished at 242 for six in 98 overs.

Gary Kirsten and Taufeeq Umer shared the Man of the Match prize. Taufeeq's two gritty half centuries and Kirsten's meticulous century in the second innings along with his half-century in the first knock gave both teams an equal chance of winning the match.

Taufeeq's 68 and 71 gave the left-hander an aggregate of 313 runs from four innings in the series. His third successive century partnership with Imran Farhat in the first innings gave Pakistan a solid start of 137 runs, before Pollock ruined Pakistan's hope of a big first innings lead with figures of six for 78.

"I had no plans to play in the two-Test series because of multiple injuries on my knees," Taufeeq said after the second Test.

Shaun Pollock's six for 78 was the highlight of South Africa's bowling in Pakistan's first innings. — Pic. GETTY IMAGES-

The chief selector Aamir Sohail persuaded Taufeeq to play in the Test. "Aamir Sohail gave me a lot of confidence to play against South Africa and I delayed my operation plans," Taufeeq said.

Taufeeq showed tremendous patience and aggression against Pollock, Ntini and the two left-arm spinner Peterson and Adams. Although he took his own time in scoring 71 off 183 balls in the second innings, ultimately it saved Pakistan from a defeat.

Taufeeq was humble when he was compared with Pakistan's great left-hander Saeed Anwar. "I don't know whether I would be able to fill in the shoes of Saeed Anwar, but I try to be as positive as he (Saeed) was in his playing days, and I hope to serve my country just like he did," Taufeeq said.

Kirsten had happy memories of Faisalabad's Iqbal Stadium when he carried his bat in 1997-98 series in his team's victory. "Two hundreds at one ground is always special," Kirsten said after scoring 118 off 223 balls with 11 fours and three sixes during his five-hour knock in the second innings, which gave South Africa a sizeable lead of 301.

Neil McKenzie is neatly taken by Taufeeq Umar off Kaneria. Umar took six catches in the match. — Pic. GETTY IMAGES-

"The pitch was good and it would be hard work for us to get 10 wickets on the last day," Kirsten said.

He was quite right in predicting the outcome of the match as Pakistan eventually ended up at 242 for six.