SA v Pakistan: 5 Test classics

2018-12-21 13:23
Pat Symcox (File)

Cape Town - South Africa have a notable track record of bossing home Test series against current visitors Pakistan, as reflected in their winning four of the five played so far, with one shared outcome in the 1997/98 duel.

But there have been some pulsating, dramatic individual contests along the way, which made nailing down just five for special attention a tough task.

With the first Test of the 2018/19 series beginning at Centurion on Boxing Day, here is my choice of prior classics, for varying reasons …

2012/13: 1st Test, Wanderers - SA won by 211 runs

Unquestionably, the “Dale Steyn Test”. The Phalaborwa Express claimed career-best match figures of 11/60 at the Bullring, including an astonishing first-innings blitz as the Pakistanis were truly routed.

Replying to the Proteas’ far from muscular first-knock total of 253, all it took were 29 overs for the tourists to be back in the pavilion, tails between legs … bundled out for 49, with Steyn grabbing six for eight in 8.1 jaw-dropping overs.

AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla then rubbed salt in at the crease as the hosts cantered to a decent second-innings total before sounding the bell.

The Pakistanis were more resilient the second time around, but still never came close to reaching a fourth-innings target well in excess of the 450-mark, as player-of-the-match Steyn came to the fore anew with another five-for …

Scores: SA 253 (J Kallis 50; M Hafeez 4/16) and 275/3 dec (AB de Villiers 103no, H Amla 74no). Pakistan 49 (D Steyn 6/8) and 268 (Misbah-ul-Haq 64; D Steyn 5/52)

2006/07: 2nd Test, St George’s Park - Pakistan won by five wickets

This was just Pakistan’s second Test victory on SA soil, and teed up a memorable final-match climax by levelling the series at 1-1.

Despite Graeme Smith opting to bat after winning the toss, his charges were skittled for 124, the moody but fearsome shock bowler Shoaib Akhtar snaring four wickets.

Pakistan required a major share of their runs in reply from veteran Inzamam-ul-Haq (an unbeaten 92 out of 265) … but that still meant a tidy lead.

Jacques Kallis got into the nineties himself in SA’s second innings of 300-plus, with the smooth-action Mohammad Asif the tourists’ most stellar seamer this time (5/76).

But then Younis Khan kept his nerve admirably to guide Pakistan pretty safely to their target of 191.  

Scores: SA 124 (M Boucher 35; S Akhtar 4/36) and 331 (J Kallis 91; M Asif 5/76). Pakistan 265 (Inzamam-ul-Haq 92no; M Ntini 6/59) and 191/5 (Younis Khan 67no)

2002/03: 2nd Test, Newlands - SA won by innings and 142 runs

This was a massacre by the fired-up Proteas at one of their favourite home hunting grounds, most memorable for the monster, record-toppling opening partnership between Herschelle Gibbs and Capetonian colleague and skipper Smith.

Gibbs plundered 228 and Smith just over 150 as their alliance netted 368 runs - at the time the best for any wicket by the country, and fourth-highest opening stand in Test history.

That was really enough to knock the zest out of the Pakistanis, as they posted moderate totals in both their first knock and the followed-on second.

A glowing exception to the rule was opener Taufeeq Umar, who top-scored for them each time with 135 and then 67, although that durable athlete Makhaya Ntini was busy in the wickets column for SA each time.

Scores: SA 620/7 dec (H Gibbs 228, G Smith 151; S Mushtaq 3/237). Pakistan 252 (T Umar 135; S Pollock 4/45, M Ntini 4/62) and 226 (T Umar 67, Inzamam-ul-Haq 60; M Ntini 4/33)

1997/98: 1st Test, Wanderers - match drawn

There seemed nothing especially stellar about this Test match at first glance: after all, it ended in a very tame stalemate at the Bullring with weather intervening often and the whole fourth day being lost.

But that disguises the earth-shattering event in South Africa’s only completed innings (there was just one by each side in the game).

It was the incredible ninth-wicket valour from the unlikely duo of gnarly off-spinner Pat Symcox, batting at No 10, and fresh-faced wicketkeeper Mark Boucher (No 8) as they utterly transformed a hitherto wobbling knock.

Joining up with the host nation an unflattering 166 for eight and Waqar Younis and Akhtar steaming in with purpose and venom, they posted 195 runs to more than double the total, Symcox notching his first and only Test ton – certainly one of the most popularly-received ones in SA history – and Boucher ending not too far off one himself.

The Pakistan innings also provided a story of lower-order glory, as No 7 all-rounder Azhar Mahmood was responsible for 136 runs alone of their 329.

Scores: SA 364 (P Symcox 108, M Boucher 78; M Ahmed 3/66) and 44/0. Pakistan 329 (A Mahmood 136; L Klusener 4/93)

1994/95: Only Test, Wanderers - SA won by 324 runs

Extraordinary solo feats didn’t come dime-a-dozen in this Test, save for the majestic bowling efforts of SA’s “Vinnige Fanie” de Villiers who registered match figures of 10/108.

His six strikes in the Pakistani first innings and further four in the second ensured that the home country romped to a large-margin victory.

But it was a poignant occasion nevertheless: the first time these nations had ever met in a Test, which was an unusual once-off clash.

SA held the whip hand from the moment they went above 450 runs in the first innings, strapping all-rounder Brian McMillan earning his maiden Test century, the first of three in a career shortened – like so many compatriots – by the isolation era.  

Scores: SA 460 (B McMillan 113, J Rhodes 72, G Kirsten 62; Aaqib Javed 3/102) and 259/7 dec (D Cullinan 69no, H Cronje 48). Pakistan 230 (S Malik 99; F de Villiers 6/81) and 165 (Inzamam-ul-Haq 95; F de Villiers 4/27)

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    pakistan  |  proteas  |  rob houwing  |  cricket


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