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The Wisden Bulletin by Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
October 17, 2003
Close South Africa 320 (Boucher 72, Kirsten 53 retd hurt, Malik 4 - 42)
Mark Boucher played a plucky rebuilding knock
Yousuf Youhana made his captaincy debut, but lost both the toss and the morning session. His counterpart, Graeme Smith, literally bullied the inconsistent Akhtar in his first four overs when he clattered him with bludgeoning venom. Mohammad Sami was the antithesis of his partner. He bowled a teasing spell, restricting the flow of runs and occasionally flirting with batsmen's edge. He was rewarded when he pitched a rare one short and wide, and Smith got a top edge while trying to pull him over midwicket (52 for 1).
Kirsten then joined Herschelle Gibbs, and the pair continued the swift pace of scoring until Gibbs edged a full ball from Danish Kaneria to Taufeeq Umar at first slip (84 for 2). Kirsten showed his experience, forcing the bowlers to pitch it up as he paddle-swept everything in sight. But as soon as the ball was tossed up, he came down the track and lofted it over the infield, disturbing the bowlers' rhythm and ensured that his side's runaway start didn't fritter away.
Gary Kirsten cops one in the face from Shoaib Akhtar
Kallis began as if performing for a sweeping circus, and he survived a huge appeal for lbw from Kaneria, which was very adjacent. But he gradually showed that there were more shots in his book, rocking back to punch the ball through the covers. However both Kirsten and Kallis had Lady Luck on their side as both escaped regulation catches. Apart from Sami, Pakistan's bowling in the morning session was pedestrian and the fielding was very close to horrific. Just as a massive total was looming large South Africa were hit by an Akhtar whirlwind of gut-wrenching pace and bulls-eye accuracy.
First Kallis faced the bombardment and was beaten three time in one over. He was glued to his crease and his lack of footwork cost him in the next over when he was given out caught behind off Danish Kaneria to a dubious decision. Kirsten reached his fifty with an elegant cover-drive and was all set to pitch tent for the whole day. But all such hopes were literally dashed in the seventh over after lunch, when Akhtar unleashed a well-directed short ball on Kirsten's off stump. Kirsten tried to pull him away with a swift swing of the bat, but the ball was just too fast and sneaked in through the visor onto his left cheekbone. He was covered in blood within a few minutes and was hurried to the hospital for safety.
McKenzie came in to face the death-metal music and received an incisive yorker that started outside off and swung and got him lbw (159 for 4).
Boucher walked in amid blood and swing, and played a truly memorable innings. He kept out the yorkers and swept all the spinners. He was aided by some large gaps left in the field and hurried South Africa along to safety. Along with Boetta Dippenaar, and then Shaun Pollock , he rebuilt the innings which was threatening to collapse.
And when the game was drifting away from Pakistan, they found the other Shoaib revitalizing them and picking up the crucial wickets of Dippenaar - who was in good touch - and Boucher, both caught at leg-slip. Shoaib then tantalized the tail with looping variation - they were clueless against the `doosra' - and wrapped up the innings for 320.
When Smith was blazing away he might have envisaged a batting mauling, but the two Shoaibs had other ideas - one brutal and the other subtle.
A look back at five high-profile exhibition matches
Bide your time, put your body behind each delivery, and play with the batsman's mind