28 October 2013
Proteas captain Graeme Smith led from the front to turn around a first test defeat and steer South Africa to an emphatic series-levelling victory in the second test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
Smith, playing only his second match in six months after undergoing ankle surgery, was back to his bloody-minded best, scoring 234 runs in South Africa’s innings of 517 all out. It won him the man of the match award and played a huge role in helping his team to victory by an innings and 92 runs.
The win maintained South Africa’s excellent record of not having lost a test series overseas since 2006. It also took them to 13 test series without defeat, good for third on the all-time list.
9 000 test runs
It was a South African record fifth double-century for Smith, who also became only the 12th player in history to pass 9 000 test runs. During his innings, he also moved above Inzamam ul-Haq (8 830), Javed Miandad (8 832) and Graham Gooch (8 900) on the list of all-time test run scorers.
The win was South Africa’s 100th since their return to international cricket and the 51st of Smith’s career in 104 tests. “I’m honoured and humbled to have been involved in more than half of South Africa’s test wins,” Smith said a statement after the match.
“There have been a lot of challenges throughout my career, but it has been a memorable journey, one that has moulded me into the person I am today.
“I think one of the most important characteristics of South African cricket has been the diversity within the squad over the years. We are fully representative of our rainbow nation, and I think it is the diversity that has created the unity within our environment.”
“Today is a proud moment in our cricketing history,” Jacques Kallis added. “Even after playing more than 150 tests I still treasure every test win. One-hundred is a special landmark.
“I have played under a few captains and coaches throughout my career, credit to everyone who has played a role in this achievement.”
‘A privilege and an honour’
It was a first test victory for coach Russell Domingo, who commented: “It’s a great privilege and honour to be involved in the Proteas’ 100th test win. It’s been a great journey for me since I have been part of the Proteas and I look forward to many more wins.
“South Africa has produced many talented cricketers over the years, and cricket in the country has been one of the pioneer sports that has unified our diverse culture.”
While Smith led the way with the bat, he received superb support from AB de Villiers, who was named man of the series after scoring 273 runs at an average of 91.
De Villiers displayed fine footwork and took the game to the Pakistanis, making 164 and sharing in a South African record partnership of 338 for the fifth wicket with his captain.
Together, the right and left handed combination kept the scoreboard ticking over healthily on a difficult wicket. Their incredible effort was reflected in the fact that only two other South African batsmen made it into the twenties.
After the test, De Villiers climbed to number one in the ICC test rankings, moving above Hashim Amla, who missed the test to be at the birth of his second child. He also moved above the elite 900-point level to 909. Smith improved seven places to eighth.
Besides scoring enough runs, it takes 20 wickets to win a match and South Africa’s bowlers, after disappointing in the first test loss in Dubai, were excellent in Abu Dhabi, especially in Pakistan’s first innings.
Imran Tahir made a massive contribution to the Proteas’ victory after being recalled to the team, capturing a career-best 5 for 32 in Pakistan’s first innings of 99 all out, with an eye-catching display of spin bowling.
He was well supported by Dale Steyn, who knocked over 3 for 38, while Morne Morkel picked up 1 for 12 and Alviro Petersen ran out Saeed Ajmal with a superb direct hit.
The second innings looked as if it might follow the path that the first innings took when South Africa reduced Pakistan to 2 for 2 in the second over, but captain Misbah ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq made it a tough slog for the Proteas on a pitch that offered little to the fast bowlers the second time around.
They shared a stand of 197 for the fifth wicket, but part-time bowler Dean Elgar made the breakthrough when he had Misbah caught at slip by Kallis for 88.
Shafiq went on to record a career-best score of 130, but the dismissal of the two middle order batsmen quickly led to a South African victory, with Zulfiqar Babar unable to bat again because a hand injury.
Tahir finished the match with eight wickets after a haul of 3 for 98 in the Pakistan second innings, while JP Duminy underlined his all-round ability by picking up a career-best 3 for 67.
South Africa and Pakistan move on to a five-match one-day international series, beginning on Wednesday. It will be followed by two Twenty20 internationals.