A match that swung this way and that throughout was ended by a final decisive swing towards South Africa in a crazy 45 minute session before lunch on day four. From a position of strength at 147 for four, Pakistan lost four wickets for five runs and were all out for 169 in their second innings, leaving the hosts needing just 182 for a series-clinching victory.
Hashim Amla anchored the run chase with an elegant 58 as South Africa chose to go after a Pakistan attack which was again overly dependent on Saeed Ajmal. Amla fell as the first of a trio of wickets with the winning line in sight, with Dean Elgar taking his side home via a heave over mid-wicket.
Misbah-ul-Haq had departed fairly early in the day to Robin Peterson, lobbing a catch to Graeme Smith at short fine-leg, but for a while, Azhar Ali and the impressive Asad Shafiq advanced the Pakistan total with relative ease. That all changed with a moment of ill fortune for Shafiq 20 minutes after the drinks break. He defended a ball from Philander with admirably soft hands and was clueless as it spun back and dislodged the off-bail. He walked off stunned, and would be joined by most of his team-mates within the next hour.
Sarfraz Ahmed’s subsequent dismissal an over later was inexplicable. Peterson tossed a ball up outside leg-stump, landing it in the rough and was greeted with the sight of Sarfraz offering no stroke, merely watching the ball as it crashed into the middle of middle-stump.
That wicket was the first in a team hat-trick for South Africa as Philander removed Azhar Ali and Umar Gul with the first two deliveries of the next over. Azhar poked at a typical Philander delivery and edged to AB de Villiers to end his excellent innings of 65 on a sour note, while Gul was caught well by Alviro Petersen at fourth slip to complete his pair.
Lunch then arrived to bring the clatter of wickets to a temporary halt, but it wasn’t long before Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Irfan were cleaned up by Peterson and Dale Steyn respectively to end the innings at 169. 15 overs earlier and South Africa would have fancied their target in the fourth innings as being around the 250-300 mark. Thanks to Philander and co. it was just 182.
They endured a few jitters, as expected, early in their run chase. Alviro Petersen survived two close calls against the impressive Mohammad Irfan, before being trapped in front by Umar Gul a little later. Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla then calmed the nerves and were aggressive against all of the Pakistani bowlers during their second-wicket stand of 53 which spanned a mere 12 overs.
Smith fell to Ajmal just before tea to give the tourists hope, but Amla, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers ensured that it wouldn’t develop into anything more. Kallis added a brisk 21 off 30 balls before becoming the second of Ajmal’s four eventual wickets, while Amla and de Villiers took South Africa to within 50 of victory.
Following their departures, Faf du Plessis gave Ajmal some consolation by being trapped in front to give him his tenth wicket of the match, whereupon, following a maiden from the mysteriously under-used Mohammad Hafeez, Elgar finally wrapped up the win.
Robin Peterson completed his remarkable turnaround from a chastening first day to be named man of the match for his crucial 84 and five wickets. Pakistan, meanwhile, will have plenty questions to answer over the selection of their side. Tanvir Ahmed, despite his valiant efforts with the bat, was at best innocuous as a bowler, while Ajmal’s heroic efforts gave weight to those calling pre-match for the addition of a second spinner in Abdur Rehman. Misbah will also have to give a satisfactory answer as to why he didn’t bowl Hafeez more on the final day.
© Cricket World 2013
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