South Africa v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Port Elizabeth, 4th day January 22, 2007

Inzamam hails win his best

Cricinfo staff

Inzamam: 'It is not easy for sub-continent teams to win in South Africa' © Getty Images
Winning away from home is always special, but given that Pakistan were 1-0 down in a three-match series and played half the match without Shoaib Akhtar it is easy to understand why Inzamam-ul-Haq has hailed the five-wicket victory his "biggest win for me as captain."

A stand of 99 between Younis Khan and Kamran Akmal completed the job, which had appeared a long way off at 92 for 5, and Inzamam was full of praise for his troops and they way they adapted.

"It is not easy for sub-continent teams to win in South Africa," he said. "Definitely we were under pressure [with five down] but they [Younis and Akmal] played very well, especially Younis as the senior partner."

Inzamam was named Man of the Match after his unbeaten 92 in the first innings, which pushed Pakistan to a decisive 141 runs ahead, but deflected praise onto his bowling attack, especially Mohammad Asif.

"He has bowled very well, moving the ball both ways. We are very happy that a new boy has bowled with his control."

Graeme Smith knew exactly where his team had let the match slip, being bowled out for 124 on the opening day although his side's fight spirit kept the contest on a knife edge. "We played some very good cricket to keep ourselves in the game as long as we did and to give ourselves a chance to win.

"Pakistan deserved their victory. They were ahead from day one. Younis played a solid innings apart from a difficult caught and bowled chance low down to Shaun Pollock when he had five, while Akmal batted aggressively."

Akmal's first three boundaries, all off Pollock, flew off edges through the slips cordons. Two went between second slip and gully. When Smith moved the gully fielder to third slip, Akmal edged the ball where gully had been. "That was very frustrating but these things happen in cricket," Smith rued. "Once he got to 25 or 30 he played brilliantly. They needed someone to take the game by the scruff of the neck and he did that."

South Africa face a tough call as to whether they need to rest Shaun Pollock © Getty Images
South Africa now face some tricky decisions going into the final match. A win here would have enabled them to rest some tired limbs ahead of the five-match one-day series and World Cup, but with a Test series on the line Smith is reluctant to lose his main strike bowlers, Pollock and Makhaya Ntini, who shared 12 wickets in the match.

"It's a massive call to go into a Test match without both of them," said Smith. "But they have been giving their all and there is not a lot left in the tank for them. We need to discuss these things and sit down with them and see what they can do. The big worry now is injury. If they get a big injury now it will be costly."

Smith said the third Test was "huge" but admitted that the prospect of the World Cup changed the team's thinking. "If the World Cup wasn't there, there would be no talk of resting guys. We want to win the Test series but we want to win the one-day series because you're really hoping to have your World Cup squad together and performing well.

"We've got five [one-day] games before the World Cup for preparation so we've got to look at that as the most important."