Inaugural Test


Toss: South Africa.

Cronje led South Africa to their biggest ever home victory by runs, while Pakistan surrendered their record of at least one Test victory in their inaugural series against each of their opponents.

Waqar Younis and Rashid Latif were declared unfit; rather than replacing Waqar with one of the bowlers to hand, the tour management selected Aamir Nazir, who was still on a 14-hour journey from Pakistan. He landed at Johannesburg an hour before play and entered the field 35 minutes late. Nazir broke down with cramp in his seventh over, but returned after tea, had Rhodes caught at slip to end a 157-run partnership, bowled Richardson next ball, broke down again and returned next day.

South Africa had lost three men in the first 75 minutes. But Kirsten and Cronje repaired the damage before Rhodes and McMillan shared South Africa's biggest partnership since their return to international cricket. They put on 157 in 39 overs, Rhodes reaching his first Test fifty since March and McMillan completing a maiden Test hundred from 146 balls. He was then bowled by a no-ball from Wasim: no-balls contributed 36 to the innings. McMillan hit 15 fours and helped South Africa to almost four an over on the first day. After his departure next morning, De Villiers raced to a maiden Test half-century, with nine fours and three sixes in 68 balls; he and Donald added 71 in 35 minutes.

De Villiers continued to dominate play, removing Pakistan's top three as they reached 44 and bowling Ijaz Ahmed round his legs after tea. The tourists were 177 for six at stumps, with only Salim Malik standing firm. In the morning, he got within one run of a third hundred in successive Tests, but Eksteen held a hard catch at gully to deny him. He had struck 16 fours in 154 balls. Pakistan were bowled out for exactly half South Africa's total and faced following on.

Cronje, however, preferred to establish a huge lead rather than bat last on a deteriorating pitch. The openers set off at a run a minute until Steyn received his second doubtful caught-behind decision of the Test. When the batsmen accepted an offer of bad light on the third evening, the advantage was 391, which South Africa extended by 98 before declaring at lunch. The morning saw two first-ball dismissals: Commins, who had a groin strain, forgot he had a runner and ran himself out, while Richardson completed a king pair.

Pakistan needed 490 from five sessions, but the home crowd of 28,000 were already celebrating by the close, with seven down for 149. De Villiers and Donald had grabbed three as the score reached five; Asif Mujtaba survived for nearly three hours, the first 45 minutes on nought, but his dismissal triggered another collapse. Pakistan's only comfort was a battling 95 from Inzamam-ul-Haq. They lost their last three wickets in 6.3 overs on the final morning, when De Villiers became the first South African to take ten wickets and score fifty in a Test. Pakistan manager Intikhab Alam afterwards described their batting as unprofessional, but Salim Malik denied reports of rifts within the team. All rumours, he insisted.

Man of the Match: P. S. De Villiers.

Close of play: First day, South Africa 354-7 (B. M. McMillan 106*, C. E. Eksteen 1*); Second day, Pakistan 177-6 (Salim Malik 86*, Wasim Akram 10*); Third day, South Africa 161-3 (D. J. Cullinan 23*, J. N. Rhodes 2*); Fourth day, Pakistan 149-7 (Inzamam-ul-Haq 86*, Kabir Khan 4*).

© John Wisden & Co