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October 12, 2007
South Africa will long remember this day, one when they sealed a major series in the subcontinent after seven years. Pakistan will hurt after the reversal but will evoke memories of one of their finest batsmen, Inzamam-ul-Haq, bringing down the curtains on a resplendent career. Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf ensured Pakistan won the day; South Africa had done enough to secure the series.
Well as they tried, South Africa's bowlers couldn't get past a set of batsmen who had steeled themselves for the rearguard. The story might have been different had Younis not been reprieved on 83 or had the new ball been taken earlier or had some of the edges not eluded the slip fielders but to Pakistan goes credit for hanging on. Younis' aggression during his second century of the series blended well with Yousuf's caution and Pakistan saw out the day with six wickets to spare.
"Inzamam's Test", however, didn't live up to its name. If the first-innings 14 was short, this one, a two-ball 3, was too abrupt. The anti-climax came a few minutes before tea when Inzamam, two short of Javed Miandad's Pakistan record for the most number of Test runs, charged left-arm spinner Paul Harris, only to be stumped by distance. As South Africa celebrated, Inzamam walked off to a guard of honour from his side. The stunned silence at the Gaddafi Stadium soon gave way to a warm final applause, putting a full stop on a riveting chapter.
Younis and Yousuf shone through the rest of the day. Resuming on 48, Younis showed no sign of reining in his aggressive instincts. He brought up his fifty with a streaky four, driving away from his body in the third over of the day, and celebrated it by crashing the next ball through covers for another four. He chanced his arm against Jacques Kallis: two airy scoops beat the short midwicket fielder set specifically for that shot. He enjoyed a large slice of luck when on 83, popping one straight to short midwicket only for Hashim Amla to spill the simplest of chances.
Younis was forced to slow down once Harris was introduced, the batsmen kept quiet with a defensive line from over the wicket, but occasionally attempted slog sweeps and innovative paddles. He was quick to pounce on anything off length, tucking anything slightly short in front of square, but preferred to play him out and take the attack to the rest. South Africa didn't find it easy to dislodge him and it required Kallis to go round the wicket to induce an error, Younis nicking to the wicketkeeper while flashing outside off.
Yousuf's was a risk-free, stodgy innings, preferring caution to adventure. He occasionally cashed in on the loose offerings but didn't try anything fancy. His 156-ball 63 held the innings together and he never really appeared to be going for the improbable win. The full-tosses and long-hops were dispatched but there wasn't a moment when he tried anything out of the ordinary. It was a workmanlike effort, one that ensured that Pakistan ended the series on a positive note.
South Africa's previous big series win in the subcontinent was made possible by a left-arm spinner - Nicky Boje running through India in Bangalore - but another one couldn't take them to 2-0 here. Harris snapped up two wickets in the day, forcing an indiscreet whip from Akmal and a reckless charge from Inzamam, but could have managed more with a bit of fortune. A couple of return chances fell short and a number of deliveries beat the outside edge of the bat without taking the snick.
The rest of the attack wasn't far behind. Andre Nel struck a probing length, Dale Steyn and Makhaya Ntini hustled the batsmen, and Kallis created opportunities. The pitch didn't deteriorate that much and the prodigious spin was thanks more to the rough than the crumbling nature of the track. Graeme Smith delayed taking the new ball, probably to shut Pakistan out of the game completely, but he was the first one to pluck out a stump when the umpires called time, becoming only the second South African captain after Hansie Cronje to triumph in Pakistan.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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