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

Pakistan of Abu Dhabi v Pakistan of Harare

Self-belief, brave selection and an aggressive mindset helped Pakistan bounce back from a loss to Zimbabwe to beating the No. 1 Test team comprehensively
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There is supposed to be some kind of certainty in covering the teams at the top and bottom of the Test rankings. You have a fair idea of who is expected to win and who is expected to lose. In the last month, that assumption has been twisted out of shape and it's all because of Pakistan.

It was barely believable that they lost to Zimbabwe in Harare and almost equally surprising that they dominated South Africa to earn such a comfortable win in Abu Dhabi. Misbah-ul-Haq put it down to conditions but there's much more to Pakistan's performance than just the comfort of a flat track.

For a start, the pitch at Harare Sports Club would be flattered to be classed under the bowler-friendly category. Although conducive to quicks in the morning, especially on the first and second days, it's closer to the harmless Natal green snake than the mamba it has been made out to be.

Pakistan's defeat was a result of carrying an unsuccessful opening pair, who were separated all too easily, having their younger batsmen frustrated by an inability to score runs through disciplined if not exactly scary seamers and three batsmen, Tino Mawoyo, Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor, who have developed as players of spin and have the temperament to bat out tough periods.

Those who were at HSC may well say Zimbabwe won because they were the more determined side, or in clich├ęd, cricket-speak, the side which 'wanted it more.' And the same could be applied to describe the way Pakistan performed at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

They went into the game confident of their ability in the UAE. The insecurity of an unfamiliar surface was absent and so was their biggest weakness. Dropping Mohammad Hafeez robbed Pakistan of experience and an additional bowler, but it appears the bravest, and perhaps even the best decision, the administrators have made.

Hafeez's awareness of the off stump may have been better in these conditions but his form against top-class bowlers has been wanting and benching in him in favour of players with a more sound technique to man the opening slot was the right decision.

That does not mean Khurram Manzoor or Shan Masood are the future. Not yet. They were both dismissed in Hafeez-esque ways in the second innings but they showed promise. They have a balance between patience and intent that saw Pakistan score at a rate between three and four runs an over, while giving them a base to build from and allowing the middle-order to bat without the pressure of survival is what set Pakistan up for victory.

The quality of Pakistan's innings was aided by a confused performance from their opposition, who misunderstood the length required of them. But it was also spurred on by a more aggressive mindset from Pakistan. Everyone from Manzoor to Adnan Akmal seemed to understand they could score runs. In Zimbabwe and in South Africa earlier this year, Pakistan played as though they thought they could not.

Since 2010, Pakistan have not lost in the UAE. It is not their home but they have come to think of themselves as having ownership here. They allowed themselves to drive Dale Steyn through the offside when he ventured too wide or pulled Morne Morkel if he dropped it short.

It is also on these surfaces where they know their ability against spin can come to the fore, be it while bowling or batting. South Africa's spin department for this Test was weak and Pakistan took full advantage. While Robin Peterson offered them too much flight and bowled too many full tosses, the South African middle order were easy targets for Saeed Ajmal and Zulfiqur Babar.

South Africa are not bunnies against spin. They have decent records against the likes of Graeme Swann and even Ajmal from the last tour. But just as they have improved in their footwork and ability to read a turning ball, Ajmal has become more cunning. Faf du Plessis and most of the tail were troubled by him and because he can bowl all day, Pakistan used him in that capacity.

Though, Pakistan did not rely solely on Ajmal. Babar was a more than adequate back-up and the two seamers were exceptional. Mohammad Irfan has worked on his stamina and can bowl longer spells without the fear of breaking down. Junaid Khan was described by Zimbabwe's players - who will be quietly chuckling to themselves that they are now the yardstick - as the most improved bowler from the Pakistan of two years ago. He is dangerous with both the new and old balls and creates problems with his angle.

With all of these elements working together, Pakistan put on an all-round performance they can be proud of. They were committed in the field as well, with Irfan showcasing many inelegant but effective methods of saving runs. This was the performance of a team who had something to prove, against one who may have felt their long unbeaten record on the road meant they had already shown what they are capable of.

It is not like South Africa to take things for granted but with minimal preparation and a long absence from Test cricket, they still declared themselves ready to play, from mid-way through the warm-up match when some of their players said they would be able to walk into a Test match, "tomorrow." Pakistan might have sensed that as over-confidence and they pounced on it.

The importance of this result for Pakistan and their personnel was highlighted merely by watching Dav Whamore's reaction. When Misbah launched Peterson for six, Whatmore was out of his seat almost before the ball had landed on the other side of the boundary and was on his way to shake hands with the South African support staff.

He waited on the sidelines for Misbah, to whom he offered no outstretched hand. The pair were couched in a bear hug which said more than any words could. They were joined in relief and joy, knowing some part of the job is done but there is still more to do. Just a few weeks ago, they were united in embarrassment following the loss to Zimbabwe.

Is this the same team who were humiliated in Harare? Some parts of it are and the parts that are not appear improved, infused with optimism and in touch with what they need to do to win.

'Pakistan will get stronger after win' - Waqar Younis

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • EngineerKhan on October 18, 2013, 2:38 GMT

    This is a master-piece!! Firdose Moonda is so unique to other ESPN writers given the way she approaches the things so realistically (sounds a bit like England's commentators).

    For example, check these lines I am quoting below:

    "Although conducive to quicks in the morning, especially on the first and second days, it's closer to the harmless Natal green snake than the mamba it has been made out to be."

    "Dropping Mohammad Hafeez robbed Pakistan of experience and an additional bowler, but it appears the bravest, and perhaps even the best decision, the administrators have made."

    "That does not mean Khurram Manzoor or Shan Masood are the future. Not yet. They were both dismissed in Hafeez-esque ways in the second innings but they showed promise."

    There are plenty but you all have read it and I am sure would have enjoyed it similarly. Awesome!!

  • on October 20, 2013, 10:05 GMT

    I think Asad Shafiq 50 in the first innings was much more classy than Shan 75.

  • on October 20, 2013, 6:16 GMT

    FirDose You are really a favourite writer of mine since am reading your articles, but this piece really pushed me to write something to appreciate and acknowledge, what a fine piece , i will keep it for long time.I love your critisism, and really if the team can read it , they will benefit out of the advice you ponder ,again i loved it

  • deconstruct on October 19, 2013, 15:26 GMT

    A well-written piece indeed. Putting things in perspective though, lets not get over-enthusiastic. Pakistan selectors still have to take more "brave decisions". One is getting rid of Azhar Ali. Its too early to say much about Shan Masood, but honestly, he didn't look too impressive. Basically, if we compare SA's performance with England in UAE, we'll find that while England had a good spin attack, the failed because of their batsmen. It is the reverse in the case of SA; their batsmen are not as clueless against spin as the Englishmen, but they have a poor spin attack, without which it may not be possible to succeed in Sub-continent and the UAE.

  • xtrafalgarx on October 19, 2013, 1:42 GMT

    I agree with ZFCOUTKAST. South Africa are the No.1 side by default, not necessarily by skill and dominance. They are the only side in the past 10 years who haven't regressed or lost good players, they have maintained their status while everyone else crashed around them. They are definitely going to have a tough time in a few years time. India got through their transition pretty easily and we are struggling in Aussie but i think SA will fall in between that spectrum.

  • on October 18, 2013, 20:03 GMT

    Actually graeme smith was arrogant & over confident as he thought he can easily beat pakistan with ease. he assumed pakistan a lowly rated team that lost to zimbabwe and south africa are the no.1 team. he had immense faith with his 3 fast bowlers so he didnt cared to select a quality spinner(which they dont have).

    In my view the difference between the two teams was pakistan captain misbah. misbah was the inform batsman in all forms of the game with good runs in 2013 while the same smith does not have. Besides arrogance he takes catches that hit the ground and does not walk after edging, bad reputation for the game as he's a captain of an international team

  • Shahzadhussan on October 18, 2013, 13:21 GMT

    I guess Shan Masood is not better than Hafeez and he is certainly not the future as his maiden fifty consisted of mainly edges and snicks even on such relatively slow wicket. My assessment will be proved right when he will play on slight lively wicket. I think Pak should concentrate on Shahzad and merit but not nepotism and regionalism.

  • ROXSPORT on October 18, 2013, 11:44 GMT

    The SAF team is over rated in sub continent conditions. Apart from Steyn, none of the bowlers is threatening enough. Morkel simply doesn't have the heart to bowl in hot conditions on flat tracks. He is dangerous only on pitches like Perth, Jo'burg, Auckland, Leeds. As good as harmless on flat beds like UAE, Lahore, Ahmedabad. Philander needs too much help from the conditions as he relies more on cut and seam. Sorry, but not available in the Subcontinent. He struggled even in England last year. Perhaps Kyle Abbot or Marchant de Lange would be better. Finally, Faf du Plessis seems to have lost his magic. David Miller may be better. He showed good technique in the IPL. SAF can also consider Roelof van der Merwe instead of Peterson. All said and done, expect a good contest in the 2nd Test. SAF will be hurting and Pak will be out trying to prove that their performance was not a flash in the pan.

  • on October 18, 2013, 11:15 GMT

    "Junaid Khan was described by Zimbabwe's players - who will be quietly chuckling to themselves that they are now the yardstick - as the most improved bowler from the Pakistan of two years ago" Brilliant!

  • liaqathussain on October 18, 2013, 10:48 GMT

    Great read,

    What happened in Zimbabwe is simply for me , complacency mixed with some arrogance that we will beat Zimbabwe by simply showing up,

    But that didn't happen and Zim showed up and showed up well

  • EngineerKhan on October 18, 2013, 2:38 GMT

    This is a master-piece!! Firdose Moonda is so unique to other ESPN writers given the way she approaches the things so realistically (sounds a bit like England's commentators).

    For example, check these lines I am quoting below:

    "Although conducive to quicks in the morning, especially on the first and second days, it's closer to the harmless Natal green snake than the mamba it has been made out to be."

    "Dropping Mohammad Hafeez robbed Pakistan of experience and an additional bowler, but it appears the bravest, and perhaps even the best decision, the administrators have made."

    "That does not mean Khurram Manzoor or Shan Masood are the future. Not yet. They were both dismissed in Hafeez-esque ways in the second innings but they showed promise."

    There are plenty but you all have read it and I am sure would have enjoyed it similarly. Awesome!!

  • on October 20, 2013, 10:05 GMT

    I think Asad Shafiq 50 in the first innings was much more classy than Shan 75.

  • on October 20, 2013, 6:16 GMT

    FirDose You are really a favourite writer of mine since am reading your articles, but this piece really pushed me to write something to appreciate and acknowledge, what a fine piece , i will keep it for long time.I love your critisism, and really if the team can read it , they will benefit out of the advice you ponder ,again i loved it

  • deconstruct on October 19, 2013, 15:26 GMT

    A well-written piece indeed. Putting things in perspective though, lets not get over-enthusiastic. Pakistan selectors still have to take more "brave decisions". One is getting rid of Azhar Ali. Its too early to say much about Shan Masood, but honestly, he didn't look too impressive. Basically, if we compare SA's performance with England in UAE, we'll find that while England had a good spin attack, the failed because of their batsmen. It is the reverse in the case of SA; their batsmen are not as clueless against spin as the Englishmen, but they have a poor spin attack, without which it may not be possible to succeed in Sub-continent and the UAE.

  • xtrafalgarx on October 19, 2013, 1:42 GMT

    I agree with ZFCOUTKAST. South Africa are the No.1 side by default, not necessarily by skill and dominance. They are the only side in the past 10 years who haven't regressed or lost good players, they have maintained their status while everyone else crashed around them. They are definitely going to have a tough time in a few years time. India got through their transition pretty easily and we are struggling in Aussie but i think SA will fall in between that spectrum.

  • on October 18, 2013, 20:03 GMT

    Actually graeme smith was arrogant & over confident as he thought he can easily beat pakistan with ease. he assumed pakistan a lowly rated team that lost to zimbabwe and south africa are the no.1 team. he had immense faith with his 3 fast bowlers so he didnt cared to select a quality spinner(which they dont have).

    In my view the difference between the two teams was pakistan captain misbah. misbah was the inform batsman in all forms of the game with good runs in 2013 while the same smith does not have. Besides arrogance he takes catches that hit the ground and does not walk after edging, bad reputation for the game as he's a captain of an international team

  • Shahzadhussan on October 18, 2013, 13:21 GMT

    I guess Shan Masood is not better than Hafeez and he is certainly not the future as his maiden fifty consisted of mainly edges and snicks even on such relatively slow wicket. My assessment will be proved right when he will play on slight lively wicket. I think Pak should concentrate on Shahzad and merit but not nepotism and regionalism.

  • ROXSPORT on October 18, 2013, 11:44 GMT

    The SAF team is over rated in sub continent conditions. Apart from Steyn, none of the bowlers is threatening enough. Morkel simply doesn't have the heart to bowl in hot conditions on flat tracks. He is dangerous only on pitches like Perth, Jo'burg, Auckland, Leeds. As good as harmless on flat beds like UAE, Lahore, Ahmedabad. Philander needs too much help from the conditions as he relies more on cut and seam. Sorry, but not available in the Subcontinent. He struggled even in England last year. Perhaps Kyle Abbot or Marchant de Lange would be better. Finally, Faf du Plessis seems to have lost his magic. David Miller may be better. He showed good technique in the IPL. SAF can also consider Roelof van der Merwe instead of Peterson. All said and done, expect a good contest in the 2nd Test. SAF will be hurting and Pak will be out trying to prove that their performance was not a flash in the pan.

  • on October 18, 2013, 11:15 GMT

    "Junaid Khan was described by Zimbabwe's players - who will be quietly chuckling to themselves that they are now the yardstick - as the most improved bowler from the Pakistan of two years ago" Brilliant!

  • liaqathussain on October 18, 2013, 10:48 GMT

    Great read,

    What happened in Zimbabwe is simply for me , complacency mixed with some arrogance that we will beat Zimbabwe by simply showing up,

    But that didn't happen and Zim showed up and showed up well

  • mainul079080 on October 18, 2013, 10:29 GMT

    Pakistan batting will surely suffer in second test. Masood, Azhar and Shafiq are the weak links. They are not competent and skill enough to face Stein and Philander in full mode. Pakistan must go back to Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Shoib Maqsood today or tomorrow. Mind my words.

  • on October 18, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    well played Pak... Proteas should not underestimate Pak abilities!!! they and and lost the match...

  • on October 18, 2013, 10:19 GMT

    I would like to know why Miller is not in SA side? He should be playing tests as he's a better cricketer and would have done so well in these conditions.

  • Ahmed.PAKISTAN on October 18, 2013, 9:30 GMT

    Simple is that SAF were over confident. They opted to go for rest after tour game. Themselves to be blamed.

    When Pak were in SA, they offered them a flat wicket for preparation while totally opposite to that in real contest. I thought it was unprofessional by them. At least they were offered same here in UAE as it was coming to them in near future.

    All in all, Pak have been professional but SAF have not been. Pakistan did not know what was coming to them in SA and when they came to know, it dented their confidence .... So benefit of doubt to Pak. They lost ODI series in SA 3-2 , last one was decider .... won T20 series last time they visited.

    its SA who needs to prove a point now.

    plz stop making lame excuses now.... thanks and regards.

  • Biso on October 18, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    @ZCFoutcast. Totally agree with you. I will not be surprised if SA faces the same problems of sudden transition as India did ( when the selectors were suddenly shaken off their stupor and felt that a change was overdue) and Australia continues to do after the loss of their greats. Another thing, the SA bowlers in general have to learn to bowl better in these conditions. And I refuse to believe that SA do not have enough back up bowlers or young batsmen who can be progressively blooded.

  • Biso on October 18, 2013, 8:26 GMT

    All things considered Pakistan have a better bowling attack for the conditions. I feel Steyn will bowl better in the next test but I have my doubts about Morkel, who despite all his pace and bounce finds it difficult to come to terms on sub continent tracks as he can't change length and reverse swing. Philander will bowl good lengths and lines, but nothing more and it will be Pakistan batsmen giving him wickets rather than he earning them with difficult to negotiate deliveries. What Pakistan need is more self belief and their openers have to bat within themselves to put up at least an average of 75 runs at start. Amla and ABD are the big wickets. Kallis is quite inconsistent these days but has the class to come up with a big hundred once a while. I have faith in Misbah ( Mr Dependable) but as for the others they have to bat with more belief. SA will find it hard to pull out a draw unless Pakistan team self destructs.

  • on October 18, 2013, 8:20 GMT

    I m sick and tired of reading that SA is rusty bc of not playing Test cricket for a long time. I mean does anybody ever care for how long Pak hasn't played cricket at home? Or exactly how many Tests Pak get to play even away from home? If SA hasnt played any Tests of late, its their fault as they prefer to appear in domestic T20 leagues. Give credit to Pak for a superb show. And yes one thing more, its not an upset by any means. Despite losing to Zimbabwe, Pakistan is not a third rate team. Its the same team that toppled the No.1 ranked side last year.

  • Omar-Briganto on October 18, 2013, 7:49 GMT

    Firdose Moonda you are becoming one of my favorite sports journalist because of your true analysis and well scripted balanced reporting.

    South Africa is a brilliant team and there is every possibility they will come back in second test with all fire power. However upset word is better suited for minnow teams like Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

  • NixNixon on October 18, 2013, 6:53 GMT

    Well done Pakistan! not to take away anything from their victory, but I believe that winning this test was made easier for Pakistan due to the fact that SA have not played test cricket since February and also because players like steyn and smith are coming back from injury and including kallis, these guys have not played competitive cricket for a while. I could see these guys where ring rusty! However, having said that SA was overconfident and though Pakistan would be a walk-over, that is always our problem. Secondly a lot of players in the team are fringe players, for me faf, alviro, robbie p and to an extent kallis are extremely inconsistent. we cant select a spinner for his batting, and secondly kallis hardly does anything these days. Alviro a walking wicket and faf struggling to convert his talent into runs. Elgar to open with smith. Drop faf for parnell (as an alrounded) he recently scored another 100 in SA domestic cricket, and sort the spinner issue out. Thanks

  • Hassan_Fakhruddin on October 18, 2013, 6:50 GMT

    This is for all readers, I dont believe in ratings and rankings for me the the world no 1 Tag is rubbish, for me the best is who played good cricket anywhere in the world,SA is at number but just they played last 15 test on there home soil and u look what happend to them when they are playing here.And also people are saying SA got the best fast bowling unit totaly wrong they are best when they played on bouncy track and for me Pakistan's bowlers are the best . Make them play anywhere against any side they will give u results regardless of surface. Thats why i say Pakistan bowling unit is number one in test or ODI or T20.

  • Zafar_Abbas on October 18, 2013, 6:37 GMT

    As, expected.. Firdose you saved your best for Pakistan... Great writer and a big Pakistan team lover.. Yes, I can smell from your writings.." Pakistan Jindabad"

  • BEN-pak on October 18, 2013, 6:33 GMT

    It was wonderful to see Pakistan play to their potential. From day one there was an air of optimism. Steyn and Co were truly clattered and it was a sight relishing, our two openers taking the game to the most feared bowler in the world. That's what was need, total disrespect for Steyn. A great bowler maybe, but a very bad sportsman indeed. Having said that Pakistan looked like a team with a purpose, they complimented one another, the body language was superb throughout, no heads down, no finger pointing and no glaring. Great stuff. I only wish now they get rid of the 'jitters' chasing. They lack patience chasing relatively modest targets.

    This game proves on a day when everything clicks - Pakistan is a force that can blow any team away.

    Well done boys - finish the job off in style.

  • ZCFOutkast on October 18, 2013, 6:08 GMT

    The last 3 Tests the Proteas have played here underlines just how far behind this Test side is to that Waugh-Hayden-Ponting-Warne-McGrath side. The Proteas may be #1, but they've overtaken regressing, rebuilding and old sides. The fact that they haven't taken full advantage and dominated to the point of winning Limited Over Tournaments will be the biggest failure of this Proteas side. To associate the word greatness to this side would be rather criminal.

    One wonders why then they did not make use of this period to blood in some younger players and fulfil the long overdue transformation agenda, during a time when losses would've been at a minimum. India may eventually arrive to soften us up, following which the Aussies will put the final nail on the coffin to this side - hopefully triggering some retirements. Perhaps then we'll get to see how much justification there will be to postpone transforming a side that will invariably be losing and heavily more often than not!

  • on October 18, 2013, 6:03 GMT

    to me factors are SA became overconfident because they had beaten Pakistan earlier in S.A. #2 their spin attack is so ordinary and with out intimidation. lets see how they come up to the task at dubai

  • SamRoy on October 18, 2013, 5:39 GMT

    Firdose, I think before the first day of the first test started I mentioned in my comments that if it is a square turner SA has a very good chance of losing. Guess what, it was a slow turner and infact quite flat for first two days and yet SA lost. Rustiness was a factor but a bigger factor was SA not having quality spinners. Yes in Amla, Kallis and ABD they had 3 excellent players of spin bowling but the rest weren't good players of spin. In fact I was surprised how much Duminy has improved against spin after struggling miserably against Swann and Harbhajan early in his career. In the second test, though I expect SA to put a far tougher fight still Pakistan has a very good chance to win the match as Amla is not going to play. Tahir if he bowls like he has bowled in any of his previous tests will get hammered. SA still slight favourites to win second test but Pakistan still has a very good chance of winning.

  • OhPakistan on October 18, 2013, 4:40 GMT

    'Unpredictable-Pakistan' maintain the tradition of deflating the No. 1 ranked sides. Factors contributing to this amazing turnaround from Harare to Abu Dhabi have been (a) Misbah's positive attitude & aggressive captaincy. (b) Induction of new talent esp. youngsters (c) Moin Khan's input (d) Change of playing surfaces.

  • CricAsN on October 18, 2013, 4:24 GMT

    Azhar Ali was regarded as a wall by these pakistani fans and now suddenly the cry of drop drop drop.

  • Mr.PotatoesTomatoes on October 18, 2013, 4:20 GMT

    When Misbah says its change of settings that worked in Pakistan's favor,you had better believe that it was indeed the case.I am quite sure the present Pakistani batting line up would have been as much at sea in South Africa and Zimbabwe earlier in the year as the original team.Surely the author does not think that the track at Harare was as placid as the one in Abu Dhabi. South Africa didn't play according to the conditions and that's what cost them the game.Their batting in the first innings was sub-standard to say the least-it smacked of rustiness and even complacency with hesitant footwork and no clear plans against the Pak bowling unit.One can also be critical of their bowling-their quicks didn't exactly bowl sub-continent lines and lengths.They were guilty of bowling too straight and too short.These are conditions that the Pakistani batsmen are familiar with,so you expect them to get runs but bowling to their strengths only made their task easier.

  • Sinhaya on October 18, 2013, 3:56 GMT

    No doubt a great performance by Pakistani openers in the 1st essay but must not get carried away. If the target was 150, SA may have grabbed this game. I was shocked earlier as to how could Shan Masood get a place in the side as an opener when his domestic average is 35 but he proved me wrong. A question I want to ask is as to why Manzoor dropped from the side for nearly 2.5 years after scoring 77 against Australia in 2010? Shocking/

    Well as a huge fan of Misbah, I hope he scores a double ton in the second test and also hope he plays international cricket even at the age of 45 as he seems currently fit as ever and in prime form.

  • on October 18, 2013, 3:03 GMT

    well pakistan really playee the best test cricket...! a much needee win for pakistan. but i am a little bit concerned with yhe foot work of azhar ali. he needs to work on his technique. UAE conditions suits to pakistan than any other team in the world. and also SA spin department is not good.its very ordinary... misbah again proved himself as a master batsman. i am desperate to watch a century from asad shafiq or azhar ali. they are very dedicated cricketers and they must gets runs. and in south african team i couldnot understand te role of faf du plessis...? i mean dean elgar is there an faf doesnot play spin bowling as good as he plays fast or medium. put him out of team or change his batting order and send him to number 3 or 4.

  • on October 18, 2013, 2:34 GMT

    Pakistan will win the 2nd Test as well. They have a better balanced attack. Even if they don't they will climb to #4 in Test Ranking after the 2nd test.

  • mensan on October 18, 2013, 1:56 GMT

    Suggestions for 2nd test for Pakistan:

    1. Rest Azhar Ali and bring in Umar Amin as a batsman and 2nd seamer.

    2. Rest Irfan. He may not be able to play 2 consecutive tests due to dodgy fitness.

    3. Bring in Abdur Rehman in place of Irfan. He has great test record and is very much under-rated in the shadow of Saeed Ajmal.

    4. Make a turning track in Dubai to suit the spin trio. Abu Dhabi wicket was good for batting.

    5. Pakistan batsman must continue aggressive display and score at 3+ run rate. It becomes hard when they go into shells and don't score runs; it puts pressure on team.

  • on October 18, 2013, 1:45 GMT

    ratings are ridiculous....the rules are so complicated that one can't understand how teams are rated,even when Pakistan lost to Zimbabwe only one test by just 24 runs and the series was drawn 1-1and most importantly in Zimbabwe (away from home),but Pakistan lost "5" hard earned rating points, which was totally unfair.

  • CrICkeeet on October 18, 2013, 1:24 GMT

    Cricket is a game of condition now...

  • vrn59 on October 18, 2013, 1:18 GMT

    @Atul Malhotra: please use the right facts. Out of the 10 Tests SA played in 2012, 9 were away from home: 3 each in New Zealand (SA won 1-0), England (2-0) and Australia (1-0). SA has not lost an away Test series since 2006 and a home series since 2009. They have been unbeaten in Tests since the end of 2011. Four of their seven batsmen are considered amongst the world's best today: one of them is an all-time legend (Kallis), second one of the best cricketers of this decade (Smith) and the other two are ranked as the best batsmen in Tests (Amla and de Villiers) despite not having played any Test cricket for eight months. Their pace spearhead has been ranked as the best Test bowler in the world since mid-2009 and his new-ball partner averages 17 with the ball. SA's pace quartet is considered to be the most venomous in the world. If this team doesn't deserve being No. 1, then who does?

  • on October 18, 2013, 0:44 GMT

    @Moonda: "It all came together for Pakistan" is not a fully fair title. "Pakistan outplayed SA" would have been a better caption.

    Pakistan consistently produce excellent cricketers. It is their inconsistency in performance, which makes it look a "lesser" team. In this test, Pakistan thoroughly outplayed SA. SA supporters have to accept that fact.

    And columnists,be gracious enough to give right credit to Pak Team when they fully deserve it. -- An Indian Cricket lover.

  • on October 18, 2013, 0:08 GMT

    such a high class quality writer is Firdose Moonda. wow ciricinfo standard is going up.

  • on October 17, 2013, 23:31 GMT

    Ahmad Shehzad should be in for Azhar Ali. He is aggressive batsman and a good feilder and have potential to play long inning.

  • sixeeeers on October 17, 2013, 23:04 GMT

    Good WIN Pakistan!!!, lets not criticize our boys... enjoy the win and keep our guys motivated for 2nd test win as well...

  • jb633 on October 17, 2013, 22:01 GMT

    @SyedAreYouDumb, can you please tell me which South African players have made excuses for losing. Smith has said they have been outplayed by Pak and that they deserved their win. It was the same tosh as when we lost to Pak in the UAE, all our players said we have been outplayed and yet we hear about these mythical excuses . Having watched a lot of South African sport there is one thing that is always apparent and that is they do not make excuses. Be it rugby or cricket they will generally be hard on themselves and take defeat on the chin. It's funny how people can take what they want to read from an article. I read somewhere that because Jimmy Anderson said he was proud of his achievement that he has SRT dismissed more than any other bowler, he was equating himself with Sachin and he was disrespecting him.

  • on October 17, 2013, 21:40 GMT

    I think ratings are ridiculuous. First not all teams play equal amount of home and away test cricket. And as someone pointed out, how can we call SA no. 1 test team when all they have done is win 15 matches at home and none away ?

    Simply double the points for an away test win as compared to a home test win. ( Leave Bang and Zim out for visiting teams ratings ). Then calculate again and u will get a true picture

  • on October 17, 2013, 21:13 GMT

    @danny mania ... shan masood is also from karachi. so its just false propagande

  • tahalateef on October 17, 2013, 21:13 GMT

    It is very good that Khurram Manzoor and Shan Masood got out cheaply. It gives them a chance to not be over confident and apply themselves in the next game.

  • SyedAreYouDumb on October 17, 2013, 21:00 GMT

    I hate the excuse that SA have not played test cricket in a long time. Pakistan, Bangladesh etc sometimes don't play matches for over 6-7months but still put up a reasonable display. Being a no.1 ranked team you should still be able to be win a match hence you are no.1. Also in no way was Pakistan beating SA a 'huge upset' because Pakistan are a strong test team in their 'home' conditions...!

  • Zahidsaltin on October 17, 2013, 20:26 GMT

    Azhar Ali has done enough in the past to not be touched even if he goes without performing in this series. Said that, I would surely be interested in trying Umar Akmal to play one down and add some free scoring at the top.

  • on October 17, 2013, 20:16 GMT

    Although Pakistan has won this match I will highlight some points that need to be addressed. It is interesting to know that a pitch that wasnt lethal helped Pakistan cause only, how come? SA bowlers ( donald consider them the best) couldnt adjust to the pitch in time. SA batsmen remained under pressure on this slow pitch even on fourth day. Truly SA lost the mental game on day one. They can come back very strongly. Dont make similar pitch again. Drop azhar and bring abdul rehman for a rank turner in dubai otherwise the result will be 1-1. Gamble of playing 4 bowlers has worked will not work again.

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

    It was a remarkable test match to watch for me, as a pakistani cricket fan. I loved every bit of it NOT only because pakistani played brilliantly, but because the pakistani batsmen played well for a change(Without Younus khan contributing).Now for the next test match, i want younus khan to score runs and Azhar Ali to "Rest" a little. Fawad Alam would be the perfect replacement for Azhar Ali but then, Fawad Alam is from Karachi and we dont get more than 2 players from karachi in the pakistani team at the same time due to dirty politics. Khurram manzoor and Asad Shafiq are already playing so fawad alam cannot play. Anyways, It was a treat watching Khurram Manzoor bat, as he reminded me of the batsmen we used to have.Who didnt only "TUK TUK" their way to a lazy 40 or a 50,but took control when needed.

  • Rahulbose on October 17, 2013, 20:10 GMT

    Pakistan team always puts in an performance that is opposite to what the odds expect. I think we all know why.

  • mzm149 on October 17, 2013, 19:59 GMT

    Kick out Azhar Ali and bring in either Ahmed Shehzad or Umar Amin in the next game. Misbah should promote himself up the order if Azhar Ali is to be given another chance. Azhar Ali can't play swinging and seaming ball even if the ball is old as we saw in the first innings.

    Khurram Manzoor and Shan Masood played exceptionally well in the first innings. But they got out just like Hafeez in second innings. Steyn and Philander have finally found their line and length on these pitches. They will be lethal in the next game. Both the openers will have to play them carefully.

  • on October 17, 2013, 19:21 GMT

    Dropping Hafeez was a very wise decision, Khurram and Shan should be given an extended run in test. Pakistan also showed maturity by not bringing about wholesale changes after Zimbabwe loss, team still has a long way to go, but they have good core of players. With good governance and leadership Pakistan have the potential to be amongst top 4 teams in test cricket.

  • Wajahatt on October 17, 2013, 19:13 GMT

    The rankings are flawed since their inception but can be taken as a good reference point for where the teams stand on their current form. Why I say that is because, out of the last 15 matches that SA have won -- not one was played on Asian tracks. All teams are pretty strong in their own backyard or where the conditions match their batting and bowling prowess but the real team strength is shown on unfamiliar territories.

    In this particular test, SA were under-prepared, rusty and took Pakistan somewhat easy. Yes, Pakistan team has the habit of shooting themselves in the foot but when they are good they are very good. I believe, Ajmal was not at his best in this match and still was able to put SA on the back-foot.

    Isn't it great that Pakistan lost two of the world's best bowlers and still is able to roll over world's best batting sides cheaply. This team has enormous talent which needs to be nurtured wisely and with immense care.

    Good luck to both the teams for the second test!

  • on October 17, 2013, 18:51 GMT

    almost every body contributed. it was not like they were depending on 1 man or 2 . 4 bowlers used and all got wickets 4-4-5-6

    apart from azhar and younas, 5 out of 7 got good runs 2 hundreds and 2 fifty plus.

    if pak want to win they have to make more turning wicke

    and i think azhar alis ddropping form is a major concern. with new ball doing some tricks, why not 3 rd opener ahmed shehzad at no 3 instead of azhar ali?

    it may work well. ahmed is also an ok bowler.

  • on October 17, 2013, 18:44 GMT

    Boom ... Now that's what I call an article. Cricinfo, this writer here should be your boss. Some of your stuff is way too average.

  • on October 17, 2013, 18:44 GMT

    Boom ... Now that's what I call an article. Cricinfo, this writer here should be your boss. Some of your stuff is way too average.

  • on October 17, 2013, 18:51 GMT

    almost every body contributed. it was not like they were depending on 1 man or 2 . 4 bowlers used and all got wickets 4-4-5-6

    apart from azhar and younas, 5 out of 7 got good runs 2 hundreds and 2 fifty plus.

    if pak want to win they have to make more turning wicke

    and i think azhar alis ddropping form is a major concern. with new ball doing some tricks, why not 3 rd opener ahmed shehzad at no 3 instead of azhar ali?

    it may work well. ahmed is also an ok bowler.

  • Wajahatt on October 17, 2013, 19:13 GMT

    The rankings are flawed since their inception but can be taken as a good reference point for where the teams stand on their current form. Why I say that is because, out of the last 15 matches that SA have won -- not one was played on Asian tracks. All teams are pretty strong in their own backyard or where the conditions match their batting and bowling prowess but the real team strength is shown on unfamiliar territories.

    In this particular test, SA were under-prepared, rusty and took Pakistan somewhat easy. Yes, Pakistan team has the habit of shooting themselves in the foot but when they are good they are very good. I believe, Ajmal was not at his best in this match and still was able to put SA on the back-foot.

    Isn't it great that Pakistan lost two of the world's best bowlers and still is able to roll over world's best batting sides cheaply. This team has enormous talent which needs to be nurtured wisely and with immense care.

    Good luck to both the teams for the second test!

  • on October 17, 2013, 19:21 GMT

    Dropping Hafeez was a very wise decision, Khurram and Shan should be given an extended run in test. Pakistan also showed maturity by not bringing about wholesale changes after Zimbabwe loss, team still has a long way to go, but they have good core of players. With good governance and leadership Pakistan have the potential to be amongst top 4 teams in test cricket.

  • mzm149 on October 17, 2013, 19:59 GMT

    Kick out Azhar Ali and bring in either Ahmed Shehzad or Umar Amin in the next game. Misbah should promote himself up the order if Azhar Ali is to be given another chance. Azhar Ali can't play swinging and seaming ball even if the ball is old as we saw in the first innings.

    Khurram Manzoor and Shan Masood played exceptionally well in the first innings. But they got out just like Hafeez in second innings. Steyn and Philander have finally found their line and length on these pitches. They will be lethal in the next game. Both the openers will have to play them carefully.

  • Rahulbose on October 17, 2013, 20:10 GMT

    Pakistan team always puts in an performance that is opposite to what the odds expect. I think we all know why.

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

    It was a remarkable test match to watch for me, as a pakistani cricket fan. I loved every bit of it NOT only because pakistani played brilliantly, but because the pakistani batsmen played well for a change(Without Younus khan contributing).Now for the next test match, i want younus khan to score runs and Azhar Ali to "Rest" a little. Fawad Alam would be the perfect replacement for Azhar Ali but then, Fawad Alam is from Karachi and we dont get more than 2 players from karachi in the pakistani team at the same time due to dirty politics. Khurram manzoor and Asad Shafiq are already playing so fawad alam cannot play. Anyways, It was a treat watching Khurram Manzoor bat, as he reminded me of the batsmen we used to have.Who didnt only "TUK TUK" their way to a lazy 40 or a 50,but took control when needed.

  • on October 17, 2013, 20:16 GMT

    Although Pakistan has won this match I will highlight some points that need to be addressed. It is interesting to know that a pitch that wasnt lethal helped Pakistan cause only, how come? SA bowlers ( donald consider them the best) couldnt adjust to the pitch in time. SA batsmen remained under pressure on this slow pitch even on fourth day. Truly SA lost the mental game on day one. They can come back very strongly. Dont make similar pitch again. Drop azhar and bring abdul rehman for a rank turner in dubai otherwise the result will be 1-1. Gamble of playing 4 bowlers has worked will not work again.

  • Zahidsaltin on October 17, 2013, 20:26 GMT

    Azhar Ali has done enough in the past to not be touched even if he goes without performing in this series. Said that, I would surely be interested in trying Umar Akmal to play one down and add some free scoring at the top.

  • SyedAreYouDumb on October 17, 2013, 21:00 GMT

    I hate the excuse that SA have not played test cricket in a long time. Pakistan, Bangladesh etc sometimes don't play matches for over 6-7months but still put up a reasonable display. Being a no.1 ranked team you should still be able to be win a match hence you are no.1. Also in no way was Pakistan beating SA a 'huge upset' because Pakistan are a strong test team in their 'home' conditions...!