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A series between Pakistan, the world's most gifted side, and the heroically resilient South Africans always promised momentous cricket. South Africa had just lost a highly competitive series in Australia 1-0, and Pakistan had recently routed West Indies 3-0 at home. But South Africa had achieved the rare feat of winning a series in Pakistan only four months earlier. Some saw the series as deciding the silver medal position in world cricket.
It was certainly a memorable series, fairly drawn 1-1. But, although there was some outstanding cricket, the mood and shape of the contest was directed by incidents off the field. Not for the first time, a Pakistan tour mixed enthralling cricket with mayhem. Even as the teams gathered for the First Test in Johannesburg, there was a strange atmosphere of peevishness in the air.
South African captain Hansie Cronje, who missed the match with a knee injury, had just been obliged to apologise to the Australian Cricket Board after an incident in Adelaide, when the umpires' door was damaged. Pakistan, meanwhile, had arrived in characteristic disarray. Wasim Akram, the captain and inspiration against West Indies, had been omitted from the party, officially for fitness reasons, and Rashid Latif had become their fourth captain in ten months. With allegations of betting and match-fixing still swirling, the appointment of Latif was seen as an attempt by the Pakistan Cricket Board to loosen the grip of the senior pros and repair the side's tarnished image. He had briefly retired three years earlier after complaining about the behaviour of former captain Salim Malik.
A little more tarnish was just round the corner. The First Test was delayed for 24 hours ( Pakistan asked for longer) after fast bowler Mohammad Akram and off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq claimed they had been mugged outside the team hotel. Later reports said they had been seen at two exotically named nightspots, Club 69 and Blue Orchid, and that the injuries had actually been sustained there. The players could not describe their assailants or agree on the time of the attack.
The seeds of mistrust were sown and poisoned the entire series. The immediate effect was to polarise the two camps. Pakistan developed a siege mentality, which can be a healthy attitude for a touring party, but in this case came close to paranoia. In the face of a sceptical press, some senior players favoured returning home.
Ali Bacher, managing director of the United Cricket Board of South Africa, worked and wheedled frantically to keep the tour on course. I could have written a best-seller to describe what happened on this tour, he said at the end. Meanwhile the Pakistan manager, Asad Aziz, disappeared to his hotel room when difficult questions were asked and went off to an elephant game park when Wasim controversially returned to the fold for the final Test. Given the history of this most talented but mercurial team, it seemed strange to embark on such a serious tour without a strong manager.
The mugging issue was never resolved. South African officials felt they had been hoodwinked, and the players were in danger of being charged with wasting police time. Even on the day of their departure to Zimbabwe there was trouble: coach Haroon Rashid declared that Shoaib Akhtar and Fazl-E-Akbar were to be sent home for late-night partying, but the decision was reversed.
The First Test ended in a miserable and best-forgotten draw. In Durban, Pakistan briefly fulfilled their vast potential, outclassing South Africa to win more emphatically than a margin of 29 runs suggests, before destroying themselves for the final match. Wasim flew in at the personal request of Khalid Mahmood, chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, prompting the immediate resignation of Salim Altaf, the chairman of selectors. The arrival of Wasim, a strong personality, divided the team and they under-performed in the final Test. Wasim himself did not look match-fit. There was also a suggestion of racial tension in the series. After the Second Test, the UCB announced that Fanie de Villiers and Pat Symcox, plus fitness trainer Paddy Upton, would appear before a disciplinary committee to explain incidents involving spectators. They were cleared.
The UCB made two experiments. In the Johannesburg Test they tried floodlights, which proved a disaster. Attendance was also poor so, at Durban and Port Elizabeth, they followed the Australian example with a partial blackout of local TV coverage. The move had limited success.
Despite the troubles, there was some fine cricket. On his first Test tour, young all-rounder Azhar Mahmood scored two memorable centuries and was named Man of the Series. Mark Boucher replaced the retired South African wicket-keeper Dave Richardson with some élan. He score a half-century in each Test and made 18 dismissals to break Richardson's South African record for a three-Test series. At Port Elizabeth, there was some outstanding fast bowling: Waqar Younis took ten in the match for the fifth time, to reach 250 Test wickets in only his 51st match, while Allan Donald claimed eight.
During this final Test, Bacher announced a policy of positive discrimination and the inclusion of black fast bowler Makhaya Ntini for the approaching series against Sri Lanka. An all-white team is no longer acceptable in modern South Africa, he said. The visit of Pakistan had been momentous to the end. - P.W.
The Pakistanis made the short flight north to Zimbabwe for a three-week tour before returning to South Africa for a one-day tournament. The two Tests were much more evenly contested than expected after Zimbabwe's poor showing in New Zealand- whence they had returned only four days before the First Test- although Pakistan won both one-day internationals with commanding ease.
Zimbabwe were left to rue one, if not two, good opportunities to add to their single Test victory - against Pakistan, three year earlier. In the First Test at Bulawayo, the visitors, needing to bat through the final day, subsided to 80 for four just after lunch. But Alistair Campbell was strangely reluctant to set attacking fields and, on a good batting pitch, Pakistan comfortably held out for a draw. A few days later, Zimbabwe paid heavily for dropped catches which deprived them of an apparently certain first-innings lead. Even in chasing 192 to win, Pakistan lost seven wickets.
For Zimbabwe, there was the consolation of several fine individual performances. In Bulawayo, Grant Flower became the second Zimbabwean to carry his bat in Test cricket, and the first to score five Test hundreds - though his brother Andy caught up in the second innings. Former Western Australian batsman Murray Goodwin, who as a child had emigrated to Perth with his parents, returned to play his first home series in the land of his birth and averaged exactly 100, scoring a maiden Test century in Bulawayo. All-rounder Guy Whittall, whose form with the ball had been poor in New Zealand, bowled particularly well and also ended a lean spell with the bat by scoring a spirited 62 in Harare.
Zimbabwe's lack of first-class cricket meant that they were obliged to blood two young batsmen in the First Test, Dirk Viljoen and Trevor Madondo- the fourth black Zimbabwean to earn a Test cap - despite the fact that neither had a first-class fifty behind them. National coach Dave Houghton had not even seen Madondo play since his school days. Viljoen registered a pair and was dropped for the next Test.
While Zimbabwe badly missed the wrist-spin of the injured Paul Strang in the Second Test, Pakistan were indebted to Waqar Younis, whose tally of 13 wickets on two flat pitches earned him the Man of the Series award. But another strong candidate was Yousuf Youhana, who helped save the First Test and win the Second, with three fifties in four innings.
Despite their eventual success in Zimbabwe, Pakistan's tour ended on a losing note when they returned to South Africa for the triangular tournament. They narrowly beat Sri Lanka into the final, but crashed in that last encounter with South Africa, who beat them by nine wickets. - G.D.
Rashid Latif ( Karachi Blues/ Allied Bank) (captain), Aamir Sohail ( Allied Bank) (vice-captain), Ali Naqvi ( Karachi Blues), Azhar Mahmood ( Islamabad), Ijaz Ahmed, sen. ( Lahore), Inzamam-ul-Haq ( Faisalabad/ Allied Bank), Mohammad Akram ( Rawalpindi/ Allied Bank), Mohammad Wasim ( Rawalpindi/ADBP), Moin Khan ( PIA), Mushtaq Ahmed ( Lahore/ United Bank), Saeed Anwar (ADBP), Saqlain Mushtaq ( PIA), Shoaib Akhtar ( Rawalpindi/ADBP), Waqar Younis ( Multan), Yousuf Youhana ( Lahore/ WAPDA).
Fazl-E-Akbar ( Peshawar/ADBP), Mohammad Hussain ( Lahore/ United Bank), Shahid Afridi ( Karachi Whites/ Habib Bank) and Wasim Akram ( Lahore/ PIA) later reinforced the party.
Manager: Asad Ahmed Aziz. Coach: Harron Rashid.
Test matches- Played 5: Won 2, Lost 1, Drawn 2.
First-class matches- Played 8: Won 3, Lost 2, Drawn 3.
Wins- South Africa, Zimbabwe, Griqualand West.
Losses- South Africa, Border.
Draws- South Africa, Zimbabwe, Free State.
One-day internationals- Played 9: Won 4, Lost 5. Wins- Zimbabwe (2), Sri Lanka (2). Loses- South Africa (4), Sri Lanka.
Other non-first-class matches- Played 2: Drawn 1, No result 1. Draw- N. F. Oppenheimer's XI. No result- Matabeleland Select XI.
|S. M. Pollock||3||5||1||166||70*||0||1||41.50||1|
|M. V. Boucher||3||5||0||188||78||0||3||37.60||17/1|
|W. J. Cronje||2||4||1||106||85||0||1||35.33||0|
|J. H. Kallis||3||5||0||159||69||0||1||31.80||4|
|H. D. Ackerman||2||4||0||121||57||0||1||30.25||0|
|P. S. De Villiers||2||3||1||54||46*||0||0||27.00||1|
|A. M. Bacher||3||6||1||97||46||0||0||19.40||0|
|A. C. Hudson||3||5||0||87||42||0||0||17.40||3|
|A. A. Donald||3||4||1||12||11||0||0||4.00||2|
|Played in one Test: P. R. Adams 2* (1 ct); D. J. Cullinan 16 (1 ct); H. H. Gibbs 4 (1 ct); P. L. Symcox 108.|
At Kimberley, January 31, February 1, 2, 3. Pakistanis won by 307 runs. Toss: Pakistanis. Pakistanis 418 for eight dec. ( Saeed Anwar 117, Inzamam-ul-Haq 57 retired hurt, Azhar Mahmood 59, Rashid Latif 98, Saqlain Mushtaq 39 not out; G. A. Roe three for 98) and 216 for nine dec. ( Aamir Sohail 61, Mohammad Wasim 31, Inzamam-ul-Haq 46 not out; G. J. Kruis four for 41, L. L. Bosman three for 25); Griqualand West 218 ( J. M. Arthur 33, P. H. Barnard 101; Mushtaq Ahmed six for 63) and 109 ( W. Bossenger 39; Mushtaq Ahmed five for 18).
At East London, February 6, 7, 8. Border won by five wickets. Toss: Pakistanis. Pakistanis 232 ( Yousuf Youhana 77, Moin Khan 56; M. Ntini three for 99) and 124 ( Aamir Sohail 33, Moin Khan 42; M. Ntini three for 45, D. Taljard six for 49); Border 244 ( W. Wiblin 82, M. V. Boucher 80; Shoaib Akhtar three for 103, Azhar Mahmood four for 66) and 113 for five ( B. M. White 39, P. C. Strydom 41 not out).
Taljard took a hat-trick to set up Border's win with a day to spare.
Match reports for
2nd ODI: Zimbabwe v Pakistan at Harare, Mar 29, 1998
Match reports for
1st Test: South Africa v Pakistan at Johannesburg, Feb 14-18, 1998