Pakistan vs South Africa: 5 Memorable Tests
A recount of 5 high-octane Test matches between Pakistan and South Africa
South Africa will be playing a Test match in Pakistan after more than 13 years on the 26th of January. Both teams have faced each other 26 times before in Tests. South Africa has been more successful with 15 wins, while Pakistan has won only 4 of the 26. Seven of them ended as a draw. Many of these matches have proved to be a great watch for the cricketing fans, including some great individual and team performances. Let us take a look at five of them.
1. Pakistan’s Fourth Innings Collapse in Faisalabad
1. Pakistan’s Fourth Innings Collapse in Faisalabad
Series: 1997. Match: 3rd Test
Date: 24-27 October 1997. Venue: Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad
This was the first time South Africa visited Pakistan for a Test series and only the 4th Test match between both nations. The first match of the series in Rawalpindi and the second match in Sheikhupura both ended as draws. Hence, the team to win the third match held at Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad, would clinch the 3-match series. Hansie Cronje, the South African skipper, opted to bat first before his team was 7 down at 98. Spin bowling all-rounder Pat Symcox turned the momentum after this, scoring 81, while Gary Kristen carried his bat, hitting 100* as his team was dismissed for 239. The two Ws (Wasim and Waqar) – reunited after six Tests – had six wickets collectively while Mushtaq Ahmed grabbed three.
Unsurprisingly, Pakistan’s batting lineup collapsed initially before Inzamam-ul-Haq and Moin Khan collaborated for a 144-run partnership, the highest 6th wicket partnership for Pakistan against Proteas. Pakistan took a 69-run lead in the first innings. Then, the spin-duo of Saqlain Mushtaq and Mushtaq Ahmed did the job for Pakistan in the second innings by taking seven wickets. The away team was only able to post a target of 146.
In the chase, Pakistan’s players were dreaming about their first Test victory against South Africa as Day 3 ended with them 4/0. But this dream didn’t turn into a reality. Shaun Pollock became the hero for South Africa with his first away fifer, including four wickets in seven balls. With four ducks and only two double-digit scores, Pakistan’s whole team was wrapped up at 92 within 38 overs. In a losing cause, Pakistan had never scored lower or played fewer overs in the 4th innings before that date. Pat Symcox was declared the Man of the Match for his two 50+ scores and three wickets.
2. Pakistan Takes Revenge in Durban
Series: 1998. Match: 2nd Test
Date: 26 February-2 March 1998. Venue: Kingsmead, Durban
With fresh wounds of a home defeat, Pakistan was visiting South Africa for a 3-match Test series. The first match of the series ended as a draw. In the 2nd Test, Proteas’ skipper Cronje put Pakistan in to bat first. After a 35-run opening partnership, wickets kept tumbling for Pakistan before Azhar Mahmood rescued the innings with a 163-ball 132-run knock. This was his 3rd and last century in Tests (all came against SA; one in the last match and one on his debut). With the help of in-form Allan Donald’s fifer, the away team was restricted to 259 in the first innings.
In reply, Fazl-e-Akbar, making his Test debut, dismissed the opening pair of South Africa quickly. Debutant HD Ackerman and Shaun Pollock showed some resistance, but the magic of Mushtaq Ahmed (3 wickets) and the furious pace of Shoaib Akhtar (5 wickets) provided Pakistan a 28-run lead in the first innings.
Pakistan had a great start in the 2nd innings with a 100+ run opening partnership, but the middle order failed to build upon it. Saeed Anwar’s 118 was more than 50% of the team’s total score, while Pollock proved his all-round capabilities by dismissing six batsmen.
Pakistan set a 255-run target for hosts and came very near victory by reducing them to 133 runs for 8 wickets. Mushtaq Ahmed had 6 of these 8 scalps. However, resistance from Mark Boucher and tailender Fanie de Villiers took South Africa above 200. This partnership could have proved to be a historic one, but Waqar Younis broke it at 219 and took the final wicket at 225 to make possible the first Test win for an Asian team against South Africa in South Africa.
3. Inzamam’s “Biggest Win as a Captain”
Series: 2007. Match: 2nd Test
Date: 19-22 January 2007. Venue: St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth
South Africa led the series 1-0 under the leadership of Graeme Smith and the coaching of Mickey Arthur. Smith decided to bat first in the 2nd Test, but the first day turned out a nightmare for the batsmen. A total of 16 wickets fell on the day, including 4-fers for Shoaib Akhtar and Makhaya Ntini each. The home team was all out at only 124 – their lowest Test total against Pakistan in a completed inning. In response, Pakistan was three down at 19, but middle-order contributions gave them an 11-run lead with six wickets down at stumps on Day 1. After remaining off the field during Pakistan’s bowling innings due to pain, skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq could only enter the innings in the lower order. Batting alongside the tail, he remained unbeaten at 92, giving Pakistan a 141-run lead.
Returning to Test cricket after one year, Shoaib Akhtar picked up a hamstring injury, which meant Pakistan was one-bowler short in the 2nd innings. The South African batting lineup didn’t disappoint in the 2nd innings and scored 331 in total. Jacques Kallis top-scored with 91 runs, while Mohammad Asif managed to pull a fifer.
Pakistan needed 191 runs to make a comeback in the series. This didn’t prove to be an easy task. Half of Pakistan’s batting lineup was wrapped by Ntini & Pollock, with more than half of the required runs left. Another defeat was not far away, but Kamran Akmal turned the tables with an aggressive 57* alongside the Younis Khan’s patient 67*. The 99-run unbeaten partnership helped Pakistan in their 2nd Test win against Proteas at their home. This also proved to be Inzamam’s last Test victory as a captain, and as per him, his “biggest win as a captain.”
4. Second Test Defeat at National Stadium, Karachi
Series: 2007. Match: 1st Test
Date: 1-5 October 2007. Venue: National Stadium, Karachi
Pakistan has lost only 2 of the 42 Tests it has played at National Stadium Karachi, having a win/loss ratio of 11. One of those lost matches was against England in 2000. The second defeat was this match. After Inzamam resigned from captaincy post-2007 ODI WC, Shoaib Malik was given the captaincy role. Inzamam was also unavailable for the first match of this series, while Shoaib Akhtar missed the match due to a disciplinary inquiry. Mohammad Yousuf, who had played 17 of the last 18 Tests the team had played, also backed out at the last moment. The reason was not excessive workload or torture by the management but lack of batting practice.
Pakistan decided to go with four spinners in the side alongside Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul – the only two pacers. The South African batting lineup proved their captain’s decision of batting first to be right by building some big partnerships from the start. Decent contributions from the top-order were followed by a big innings from Jacques Kallis. After he was dropped on 36 by Kamran Akmal, he didn’t look back and played a massive 155-run knock. Pakistan’s over-reliance on spin backfired as their bowling attack, including the debutant Abdur Rehman, could only bowl out the Proteas for a massive total of 450.
73 from Shoaib Malik and contribution by the openers and tailenders helped Pakistan escape the follow-on, but they still trailed by 159 runs. Slow left-armer Paul Harris, meanwhile, took a fifer in this innings. South Africa declared their 2nd innings at 264/7 after Kallis compiled a second ton in the match. Abdur Rehman took another 4-wicket haul in this innings, finishing with figures of 4/105 in both innings – an unusual feat.
Pakistan had to chase 424 runs in almost four sessions to win or survive all of them to make it a draw. Younis Khan was the only batsmen to play 100+ balls in that innings on his way to a score of 126 before getting bowled by Dale Steyn. Steyn had earlier removed both the openers and completed his first fifer against Pakistan later in the innings as the visitors sealed a 160-run victory. This made South Africa the 2nd team to defeat Pakistan at NSK.
5. Humiliation in the UAE
Series: 2013. Match: 2nd Test
Date: 23-26 October 2013. Venue: Dubai International Cricket Stadium
After clean-sweeping Pakistan in the 3-match Test series in 2013 in South Africa, the Proteas were visiting UAE for a 2-match Test series. Pakistan comfortably won the first match by seven wickets in Abu Dhabi. Hence, South Africa opted to include Imran Tahir into their XI for the 2nd match, and he turned out to be their hero after Pakistan opted to bat first. Tahir took his maiden Test fifer as Pakistan was reduced to their lowest first-innings total in Dubai (99). After a disaster with the bat, Pakistan’s bowling failed too. Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers made the highest ever partnership of 338 runs in UAE in a 138-over stand for the 5th wicket. Smith completed his 5th double-century while de Villiers made 164. South Africa took a massive 418-run lead in the first innings.
Pakistan’s start to third to the 3rd innings included twin ducks by the openers, Shan Masood and Khurram Manzoor. After four wickets fell at 70, Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq continued to bat together for more than 100 runs. It seemed like there is another historic partnership in making. However, after successfully negotiating South Africa’s main bowling options, Misbah gave away his wicket to part-timer Dean Elgar who was bowling only the 5th over of his Test career. Wickets started tumbling after this, and Pakistan lost the match by an innings and 92 runs. This was Pakistan’s first Test defeat in UAE – their home away from home – since 2009. This was also the first Test Pakistan lost at Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Misbah criticized the first-class system after this defeat and wished for a more competitive domestic setup. He remarked, “If you are in an easy competition when you are playing top sides, you will struggle. We must make our First Class more competitive. That is why we are not mentally strong.” Interestingly, Pakistan had a good run in Tests under his captaincy without any domestic system reforms. More interestingly, when a new domestic setup is in place now with more competitive cricket, Misbah doesn’t seem happy with this change.