South Africa v Pakistan

A brief history

Sam Collins

1994-95 in South Africa
Wisden report | Cricinfo site
Pakistan arrived in South Africa with confidence high on the back of a hard-earned Test series victory over Australia, but would finish the tour with defeat amid rumours of dressing room unrest. Only the inaugural Test between the two nations was played, with both sides also taking part in the quadrangular Mandela Trophy held in South Africa before the tour started. Pakistan lost both their warm-up matches convincingly, to Western Province and Natal, and South Africa beat them by 324 runs in the Test at Johannesburg to record their largest win on home soil. Brian McMillan, with a maiden Test century, and Fanie de Villiers, who claimed ten wickets, were the heroes for South Africa, while Inzamam-ul-Haq gave further notice of his burgeoning talent with a defiant 95 in Pakistan's second innings. Pakistan's cause had not been helped by unfortunate injuries, with Waqar Younis pulling out on the eve of the Johannesburg Test, but it was clear that they had lost their discipline by the end of their stay. Worse was to follow, as they left South Africa for an ill-tempered tour of Zimbabwe.
South Africa 1 Pakistan 0

Pat Symcox was an influential figure in the 1997-98 encounters © Getty Images

1997-98 in Pakistan
Wisden report | Cricinfo site
The first meeting between the two teams in Pakistan was a chance for both to lay claim to the position of the leading challenger to Australia at the summit of the world game. It was South Africa who emerged victorious, thanks in no small part to a strong unit and the allround talents of Shaun Pollock, Lance Klusener and Brian McMillan. Pollock and Allan Donald made for a formidable opening pair, in stark contrast to their counterparts Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram who, afflicted by injury and fatigue, did not play together until the final Test. Ironically, after a dead pitch and poor weather had ensured draws at Rawalpindi and Sheikhupura, this was to prove the decider. South Africa, inspired by the words and deeds of Pat Symcox and four second-innings wickets in seven balls by Pollock, came back from a big deficit to bowl Pakistan out for 92 and record a remarkable 53-run victory. For Pakistan the spinners Mushtaq Ahmed and Saqlain Mushtaq impressed throughout, while Ali Navqi and Azhar Mahmood became the first pair of same-team debutants to score a century in the same Test at Rawalpindi, but the defeat was an opportunity missed.
Tests: Pakistan 0 South Africa 1

1997-98 in South Africa
Wisden report | Cricinfo site
In the intervening four months before they met again in South Africa, Pakistan had regained the winning habit and thumped the West Indies 3-0 at home, while South Africa had gone down narrowly 1-0 in Australia. The stage was set for a battle between two well balanced sides, and accordingly the series was fairly drawn 1-1. Inevitably, however, the tour was dominated by controversy involving Pakistan. They arrived under a cloud surrounding Wasim Akram's controversial omission, officially for fitness reasons, and Rashid Latif became their fourth captain in ten months. Allegations of match-fixing refused to go away and the gossips had a field-day when the first Test had to be postponed for twenty-four hours after two Pakistan players were supposedly mugged outside the team hotel. Whispers that the attacks had in fact taken place in local nightspots could not be proved, but the mud had stuck. The first Test at Johannesburg was a disappointing draw, notable only for Pat Symcox scoring 108 from number 10 in the order. Pakistan showed a fleeting glance of their remarkable abilities at Durban, with the spin of Mushtaq Ahmed helping them to a 29-run victory, but shot themselves in the foot in the final Test at Port Elizabeth. The recall of a clearly unfit Wasim Akram did little for team unity and Pakistan were heavily beaten, once more unable to convert their undoubted talent into a consistent level of performance.
Tests: South Africa 1 Pakistan 1

Waqar Younis struggled to control his team amid controversy in 2002-03 © Getty Images
2002-03 in South Africa
Wisden report | Cricinfo site
The chaos that traditionally surround Pakistan plumbed new depths as they were soundly beaten in both the one-day and Test series by a ruthless South African side. Pakistan arrived on the back of a demoralising thrashing at the hands of Australia, but had regained some pride with convincing displays in Zimbabwe. However, when the real contest got underway they were found severely lacking. Save for one inspired batting performance they were poor in the one-dayers and went down 4-1, and things did not get much better as South Africa won both Tests convincingly. Once again the Pakistan camp was split throughout, with Wasim Akram, predictably, at the heart of things. Shoaib Akhtar withdrew from the first Test through injury and subsequently threw himself with gusto into the Durban nightlife, epitomising the prevailing attitude of the tourists, and the captain Waqar Younis appeared to have little hope of changing things around. South Africa profited from the Pakistanis decision to enter both Tests with just three bowlers and an allrounder, racking up 368 at Durban and 620 at Cape Town to gain a firm grip on each match that they never looked likely to relinquish. Pakistan pleaded exhaustion, while the result moved South Africa above Australia to the top of the ICC Test rankings, an outcome that appeared farcical in the wake of their comprehensive defeats at home and away to the Australians the previous year.
Tests: South Africa 2 Pakistan 0
ODIs: South Africa 4 Pakistan 1

2003-04 in Pakistan
Wisden report | Cricinfo site
When a bomb exploded in Karachi 48 hours before South Africa were due to arrive it looked like the tour was a non-starter. However, the discovery that the explosion was gang-related and had nothing to do with terrorism made the United Cricket Board of South Africa's decision to cancel the tour look unnecessarily hasty. Inevitably, after much wrangling, the tour went ahead after all, albeit with an altered schedule that saw two Tests played instead of three and a further two one-day internationals added. On the pitch controversy was never far away either. Andrew Hall was banned after getting unnecessarily physical in the ODIs while his captain Graeme Smith was also punished. South Africa hit back, accusing Shoaib Akhtar of verbally abusing Paul Adams in the first Test. Akhtar was suspended and honours were even on that score, but the atmosphere between the two teams did not recover as the remainder of the series was played out in near silence, with players straining to steer clear of trouble. Pakistan won the series 1-0, with the pace of Akhtar and 99 from Asim Kamal on debut guiding them to victory in the first Test at Faisalabad. The second Test was drawn, with South Africa once more left to rue costly dropped catches as Pakistan clung on. It capped a disappointing tour for the South Africans, who appeared to have little stomach for the trip after a gruelling tour of England and for whom further contests with the West Indies and New Zealand lay in store. They did have the consolation of victory in the one-day series, but Pakistan's greater firepower proved decisive in the longer game.
Tests: Pakistan 1 South Africa 0
ODIs: Pakistan 2 South Africa 3

2006-07 in South Africa
Cricinfo site

South Africa, fresh from beating India 2-1, were thoroughly tested at home by a strong Pakistan side before winning by the same margin. The tourists initially left out Shoaib Akhtar, ostensibly on fitness grounds - and allegedly due to a strained relationship with captain Inzamam-ul-Haq - but recalled him three days before the series began as Umar Gul pulled out with an ankle injury.

Makhaya Ntini and Mohammad Asif ran through each others' batting line-ups in the first Test at Centurion, but Ashwell Prince and Herschelle Gibbs' 213-run fifth-wicket stand ensured South Africa edged ahead. Paul Harris' four wickets left the hosts with less than 200 to get, which they chased down comfortably. The one black spot was a two-match ban for Gibbs, on grounds of racial abuse during an altercation with spectators. Pakistan fought back in Port Elizabeth, a lethal Shoaib ripping apart South Africa - and then joining Gul on the injury list with a hamstring problem - before Ntini replied in kind, but Inzamam made the difference with an imperious unbeaten 92 at No. 8. Asif and Danish Kaneria ensured Pakistan would also chase under 200, which they did, after a few flutters. Inzamam hailed the win as his best. In the decisive Cape Town Test, Pakistan's batting failed twice despite Mohammad Yousuf's induction; the South Africans followed suit in the first innings, and threatened to implode again at 39 for 4, before Jacques Kallis and Prince gave them a second series win in under a month.

South Africa's bowlers, led by Shaun Pollock and Ntini, helped them to an emphatic 3-1 result in the ODI series as Pakistan collapsed in the last two matches.

Tests: South Africa 2 Pakistan 1
ODIs: South Africa 3 Pakistan 1

Sam Collins is a freelance journalist based in London