Pakistan v SA, 1st Test, Abu Dhabi, 4th day October 17, 2013

Ajmal rewarded, Akmal redeemed

Plays of the Day from the fourth day of the first Test between Pakistan and South Africa

Doosra of the day
Saeed Ajmal knew he would be able to test South Africa's lower order with his wrong'un and he did so on several occasions. The most eye-catching of them came early on, when he bowled one to nighwatchman Dale Steyn from around the wicket. The ball fizzed past the outside edge of the bat and had Steyn completely foxed. Adnan Akmal might have been too because he launched into a vociferous appeal for caught behind, although the ball had missed absolutely everything.

Catch of the day
Just as Faf du Plessis was starting to frustrate Pakistan with his stoic style of resistance, Ajmal produced a blinder to get rid of him. Du Plessis drove back towards Ajmal, who had to reach low down to his right to take the catch. Ajmal reacted quickly, stepping in the correct direction just in time and stretching as far as he could to end du Plessis pained stay in the middle.

Mistake of the day
Pakistan have hardly put a foot wrong in this match but as the South Africa tail kept them in the field, they started making a few. Akmal committed the most glaring error, dropping Robin Peterson on 46 to deny Ajmal the breakthrough. Peterson was tentative against spin early one but settled nicely. When he moved back to cut Ajmal, he got a faint edge but Akmal could not hold on. Ajmal only stared darkly in irritation.

Redemption of the day
Seven balls later, Akmal made up for his blunder - but he almost did not. Vernon Philander got a thick outside edge to an Ajmal ball that turned into him. The edge nearly had the better of Akmal who saw the ball pop out of his hand on first take. He juggled, no doubt anxiously, before securing his fingers around the ball and taking Pakistan to within one wicket of chasing a small total.

Celebration of the day
Perhaps in the assumption that he would not have to come out to bat and score the winning runs, Ajmal celebrated the final wicket as though the Test match had been won. Morne Morkel presented him with a straighforward chance, a leading edge and an easy catch. Ajmal stood mid-pitch, arms spread, back bent, chest puffed out and let out an almighty roar while the crowd joined in. This result is big for Pakistan and that expression illustrated just how big.

Nervous moment of the day
Being on the verge of an upset of this magnitude would have generated nerves of excitement for Pakistan but few would have believed it would leave them on 9 for 3. When Shan Masood and Azhar Ali were undone by a decent ball and a loose shot it may have been seen as par for the course but when Khurram Manzoor was drawn into a drive, it seemed the impossible may become possible. South Africa celebrated the scalp with glee, with AB de Villiers particularly vocal, while the partisan crowd went quiet with worry. The hush that descended over the ground reflected the disbelief that Pakistan could self-destruct from such a position of strength and was only eased by the presence of Pakistan's Mr Reliable, Misbah-ul-Haq walking out to calm things down.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Prasanna on October 19, 2013, 16:48 GMT

    congrats Green team !! Way to go !! Keep it up !!!

  • Qaasim on October 18, 2013, 21:32 GMT

    Ajju is fantastic and always will be cherished in Pakistan ... Akmals always give us a reason to laugh but Adnan does tend to redeem himself. Congrats Green tean.

  • Jeevan on October 18, 2013, 14:12 GMT

    Well done Pakistan. Take it one game at a time. Congrats to Misbah. you have never let me down.

  • Dummy4 on October 17, 2013, 23:26 GMT

    Some of the comments on here by supposed Pakistanis are ridiculous. We lose you moan. We win you moan. Get a life guys, we beat the best team in the world. No, we beat the beat team in the world .......convincingly. With all the turmoil of the last few years and the fact we cannot play at home (just think where India would be if they could never play at home) and yet still compete. We are not a great side, 6th in the rankings and this one win does not make us great. But hey, LET US ENJOY IT!!!

  • Dummy4 on October 17, 2013, 20:12 GMT

    S Africa has made thing worst by themselves Pakistan was there every moment to be beaten by them but they are the one to be blamed for their defeat as they were under prepared for such a series may be due to hot climate they are nervous or so. Pakistani team has nothing exceptional to show to S Africa if the second innings total was somewhat 120 or so Pakistan would have easily lost this match

  • Nasser on October 17, 2013, 17:50 GMT

    Rather silly comments from some Pak supporters! SA is the best test team in the world. To be the best, you do not need to be top in every aspect. You just need to best overall. To remind these "knowledgable" supporters, SA has not lost in the previous 15 tests. They have beaten Australia and England in their back yards; and thrashed Pakistan 3-0, winning all games within 4 days. Pakistan won only 1 test in the previous 5 and that was against Zimbabwe. However, as a Pak supporter myself, I am hoping that Pakistan can take advantage of Hafeez not being in the team, 2 test-player type openers and the "home" conditions of UAE to win the 2nd test too. Wisih there were 3 tests, though!

  • Shahid on October 17, 2013, 17:13 GMT

    It seems that pakistan waits for someone to become world number1, call them in UAE and beat them...Pakistan should always play here and never go to other countries, even zimbabwe.

  • Mohsin on October 17, 2013, 17:01 GMT

    Just like excuses are not the way to go for South Africa, over-rating a mediocre Pakistani team based on one match performance is not wise.Clearly you have a captain who is constantly insecure about his captaincy and place in the team. Clearly you have a team full of hard workers but no exceptional talents or very little.If everything clicks together at once for this pakistani team they look great but realistically that can not happen very often.Conditions favoring,every player performing is just not everyday occurance.You don't have genuises who can come up with extra-ordinary performances to turn around the match on their own.This is closest to the best talent Pakistan has got right now and honestly it is nothing awesome. Its good but nothing great.And you will see the same mixbag of wins and losses in the future.It is the way it is and we have to live with it.Don't overburden the guys with unrealistic expectations.Just cherish the good they come up with

  • Dummy4 on October 17, 2013, 16:31 GMT

    Ajmaaal ,only ajmal , Man why not five for, you r not for donkey work in team,but to make players dance on your tune , Hope The great ajmal will show his caliber in 2nd test by caliming atleast 10 -13 wkts , i mean least ,

  • Dummy4 on October 17, 2013, 16:02 GMT

    Congrats to Pak team!!! But consistence performance from all the players, Specially from opener Shan & Khurram. We are still worried about wicket keeper Amal.... Team management should rethink and try new blood....

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