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Pakistan handed South Africa their first Test loss since December 2011
Pakistan stunned the top Test side in the world as they breezed their way to a seven-wicket win in the first Test match in Abu Dhabi.
Despite losing three wickets in their small chase of 40 runs, Pakistan handed South Africa their first Test loss since December 2011, when they lost to Sri Lanka in Durban.
Starting the day on 72/4 with AB de Villiers unbeaten on 11 and Dale Steyn still having yet to score, the Proteas lost Steyn very early as he was clean bowled by debutant Zulfiqur Babar for seven.
Jean Paul (JP) Duminy didn’t stick around for long either as he was given out lbw off the bowling of Junaid Khan just five balls into his innings.
Faf du Plessis was the next to go as he only managed to score nine runs before being dismissed caught and bowled to spinner Saeed Ajmal.
Despite wickets falling at regular intervals, de Villiers maintained his composure and soon registered a brilliant half-century.
Things started to look up for the Proteas as de Villiers and Robin Peterson put together a 57-run partnership before de Villiers threw his wicket away on 90 off 157 balls, which included seven boundaries and a six.
Peterson finished unbeaten on 47 off 67 deliveries, which included three boundaries, as South Africa were bowled out for 232, giving Pakistan a measly total of 40 to win.
Ajmal was the pick of Pakistan’s bowlers with four wickets, while Khan took three, Babar snapped up two and Mohammad Irfan chipped in with one.
With only 40 runs standing in their way of taking a 1-0 series lead, Pakistan got off to an awful start as opening batsman Shan Masood was caught behind off the bowling of Vernon Philander for a duck.
Azhar Ali was dismissed in the very next over as he was caught out off the bowling of Steyn for three runs.
Pakistan’s first innings hero, Khurram Manzoor, also failed to make a major contribution as he too was caught behind off the bowling of Philander for just four runs.
With Pakistan reeling at 7/3, South Africa had rekindled some hope of salvaging the Test match.
But, once again, the reliable Misbah-ul-Haq strode out to the crease and ensured there was no more drama as he took Pakistan across the finish line.
He even ended the match in style, smashing a massive six off the bowling of Peterson.
Ul-Haq finished on 28 off 26 deliveries, which included two boundaries and two sixes, while Younis Khan remained unbeaten on nine runs as Pakistan went on to record their first Test win over South Africa in six years, as they last beat the Proteas in Port Elizabeth in 2007.
Philander claimed two wickets and Steyn picked up one as South Africa kept on fighting until the very end.
South Africa captain Graeme Smith was “extremely disappointed” with the loss, especially since his side did not display the qualities of a world number one Test team.
“Extremely disappointed, we have set really high standards for ourselves, but credit goes to Misbah and his boys, right from session 1, they have been ahead in the game and played better cricket,” he said. “Even though we showed good character in parts, our skills were not upto the mark. First morning was a tough time to bat, but we still got into ourselves into good position in the first innings, but then we fell apart a bit. Only posting 250 puts you under pressure. Our bowlers weren’t that bad, but we were certainly not up to the standards we set for ourselves. We have to look at our ability to bounce back and have to improve on a few things and see how we can be more effective, and hopefully make the right decisions. Hashim is the best batsman in the world at the moment, the birth of his child is a big moment for him, and I wish him and his wife best of luck.”
Pakitan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq noted that this was a “much-needed” win, especially since the media have heavily criticised his side for losing a Test match during their tour of Zimbabwe just last month.
“It’s really unbelievable and a much-needed win for us, it was a team effort and everyone contributed, especially the youngsters,” he said. “Both openers and Zulfiqar Babar, they really did a tremendous job for us. I think everyone chipped in, especially with the bowling. We go the advantage from the first innings. In these conditions, it’s difficult to score runs, that’s why I was disappointed when i lost the toss. But when we got them under 250, we thought, if we batted well, we could get ourselves into a good position. That was a much-needed 100 for me, the last one came in 2011, and I was looking forward to it. It came at a time when the team needed it. Conditions will remain the same in Dubai, maybe more bounce and spin. So they are likely to suit us. But SA have played there before too, so we need to repeat the performance.”
Manzoor was named Man of the Match for recording the highest score by a Pakistani batsman against South Africa.
“I was a bit tense till the match finished, but i am happy that we won it in the end,” he said. “I have worked hard with the coach, focused on domestic cricket, and I have been working on my fitness as well. The hard work is now paying off. I and Shan Masood play quite a lot together, so we have good communication. In fact, I was getting more confidence from watching Shan play.”
South Africa will have to win the second Test in Dubai in order avoid their first series defeat since early 2009.
The second Test gets underway on October 23 at 10:00 local time or 06:00 GMT.