SA v Pakistan
Graeme 'saves' his bowlers
Abu Dhabi – Despite having played 12 days of cricket in only three weeks and being a little tender where Younis Khan beat the living daylights out of them, the South African cricket team still has the firepower to win the Test series.
That is why Proteas captain Graeme Smith decided to call it quits with about an hour's play still left in the first Test against Pakistan.
The match ended in a draw after the South Africans managed to get only one wicket on the last day at the International Stadium.
An inspired century by Khan and a record unbeaten partnership of 186 runs with Misbah-ul-Haq, led the home team to 343/3 in their second innings, in search of an improbable winning target of 451.
"I worried for a long time about the decision to accept a draw, but with only three days rest before the next Test I didn't want to push the bowlers too much," said Smith.
"There are still five days of tough cricket in searing heat waiting for us and that is why it is important to keep some fuel in the tank, especially given all the matches that we have played in a very short time."
The Proteas won the Twenty20 series 2-0 and the a tense one-day series 3-2.
The deciding Test will begin on Saturday at the Sheikh Zayed stadium.
He said the touring side was not down and out, despite the Pakistanis' remarkable fightback.
"We were disappointed, but there were also quite a few positive things – like our batsmen's centuries and a few big partnerships," said Smith.
"Although Dale (Steyn) didn't have much success in this Test, he is beginning to look more dangerous and Morné (Morkel) and Botes (Johan Botha) also had a few spells."
But what does worry him, is the poor fielding by the Proteas on the last day, a day in which no less than three catches were missed.
"This is something that has never really happened regularly to us, but if you want to be the best team in the world, you have to use those chances. We will put a lot of attention on this before the last Test."
Meanwhile, the home team got a further boost when the International Cricket Board (ICB) announced that Kamran Akmal may again be selected for his country.
The ICB have kept a close eye on the experienced wicketkeeper ever since three of his team-mates – Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohamnmad Aamer – were suspended in August for alleged involvement with match fixing during the last Test against England.
Akmal has been overlooked for the series against the Proteas thus far – even after his replacement, Zulqarnain Haider, fled the country last week due to alleged death threats from a professional bookmaker.