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The Wisden Bulletin by Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
October 21, 2003
Pakistan 401 and 164 for 2 (Taufeeq Umar 63, Imran Farhat 58) beat South Africa 320 and 241 by 8 wickets
Shoaib Akhtar: too hot to handle
Pakistan completed an eight-wicket victory, and went one up in the series, when they speedily knocked off the 24 runs they needed this morning at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. It was Pakistan's first Test win at home against South Africa, coming six years after a 1-0 series defeat.
Pakistan lost Taufeeq Umar (63) this morning - cleaned up by a ball from Paul Adams that kept really low - but by then, the script was done and dusted. A Shoaib Malik boundary finally sealed the triumph. The fate of the match had been decided by two lethal spells of fast bowling - of contrasting styles - from Shoaib Akhtar that crashed through the batting sluice-gates.
South Africa had run away with the first session on the opening day, but with a nasty mix of reverse-swing and blasting pace, Akhtar got Pakistan back into the contest. The turning point came when he smacked Gary Kirsten on the face, as he attempted to pull a short one, forcing him to retire hurt. He then picked up Neil McKenzie first ball to well and truly dent the South Africans' morale.
Again, on the fourth morning, after the pendulum had swung back towards South Africa, Akhtar produced a blistering spell - characterised by steepling bounce and ruthless precision - that had the top-order batsmen hopping.
It was also a memorable Test for Shoaib Malik - the replacement for Saqlain Mushtaq - who bowled a teasing spell on the first day, and Danish Kaneria, who spun his web on the fourth. Taufeeq Umar's gritty hundred, Asim Kamal's fine 99 on debut, and Imran Farhat's positive approach were the other gains that Pakistan will take with them to the second Test at Faisalabad. Both Umar and Farhat, who was making a comeback to the Test team, were under pressure to perform, and they won hearts with the manner in which they chased down a potentially tricky fourth-innings target.
Mark Boucher's attacking approach with the bat and Paul Adams's seven wickets in the first innings were some consolation for South Africa. But the biggest positive was the courage shown by Kirsten in the second innings. Not fazed by the way he had been felled in the first, he took on everything the bowlers threw at him. His team-mates will need similar grit to take on Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami in Faisalabad, assuming that Akhtar is cleared to play.
South Africa were a spinner short on a wearing pitch at Lahore, and will definitely blame some of their shot-selection for the batting collapses, but the problems began with Shoaib Akhtar, who gave them no respite at all. Richie Benaud (who is to consider Akhtar's appeal against a one-match ICC ban) will now decide whether South Africa have to face another examination by raw pace in the second Test.
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