Pakistan will not remember their three-month tour of South Africa and Zimbabwe fondly. They arrived with good reason to be confident, after winning a gruelling Test series against a strong Australian side and beating South Africa three times out of three in a one-day triangular series. At first, that form carried over into the four-nation limited-overs Mandela Trophy, in which they won five of their six qualifying matches. But as the tour progressed, they declined not only in form, but in their overall make-up, their discipline and their disposition. They were heavily beaten in two first-class games against Western Province and Natal, lost both legs of the one-day final and then went down to a crushing 324-run defeat in their inaugural Test with South Africa. Hansie Cronje led his team to their third successive Test win, Fanie de Villiers took ten wickets and scored fifty, while Brian McMillan made a maiden Test century.
Pakistan's embarrassment continued on arrival in Zimbabwe. They were beaten by an innings inside four days, the first ever Test victory for the newest cricket nation, after the Flower brothers shared a stand of 269 for the fourth wicket and Heath Streak took nine for 105 in the match. Though Pakistan came back to win the three-Test series 2-1, only the third such recovery in history, off the field the tour had descended into controversy and chaos. There were persistent rumours that some of the party were being paid by bookmakers to throw matches and the players were reported to have sworn their innocence on the Koran. During the Zimbabwean leg of the tour, it was revealed that Australians Shane Warne and Tim May had alleged that Pakistan captain Salim Malik offered them huge sums of money to throw their Test in Karachi. Malik continued to court controversy by accusing Zimbabwean umpire Ian Robinson of applying sweat to one side of the ball during the Third Test in Harare. On his return to Pakistan, he was sacked as captain and suspended from the game while the board asked him to answer the charges of bribery.
Meanwhile, during the one-day series with Zimbabwe, which was shared 1-1 after the first match was tied, the vice-captain and wicket-keeper Rashid Latif and batsman Basit Ali pulled out, announcing their retirement from international cricket. They said they no longer enjoyed playing. Though they recanted three months later, their move seemed to confirm persistent rumours of rifts inside the squad, especially after Malik's unexpected decision to field first in both legs of the Mandela Trophy final, when the dressing-room consensus was believed to favour batting.
The atmosphere of the Zimbabwean tour turned sour, in marked contrast to their series in Pakistan the previous year, and referee Jackie Hendriks was kept busy. The ill feeling began in the first game, with a President's XI, when openers Aamir Sohail and Saeed Anwar accused fast bowler Henry Olonga of throwing, and he was no-balled by local umpire Ahmed Esat. Olonga, who was born in Zambia to a Kenyan father and a Zimbabwean mother, subsequently made history as the first non-white player to appear for Zimbabwe. But he made more history when he was no-balled again for throwing in the First Test and had to withdraw from the rest of the series with a side strain. In the Second Test, the Zimbabweans accused the Pakistanis of ball-tampering and sledging; Wasim Akram was reprimanded for snatching his cap from umpire Quentin Goosen after an lbw appeal was turned down, and David Houghton was later fined for saying the umpiring was weak. Malik was fined half his match fee and given a suspended ban while Aamir Sohail was reprimanded for their allegations against umpire Robinson in the Third Test. In the one-day series, Bryan Strang was cautioned for pointing a batsman back to the pavilion.
Not all Pakistan's troubles were of their own making. Their two main strike bowlers, Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram, were in harness together for only a few days. Wasim arrived in South Africa just before the final, having needed medical treatment for a sinus problem in England. Waqar withdrew from the Test in Johannesburg shortly before the start, with back pains that were eventually diagnosed as a stress fracture. He was replaced by Aamir Nazir, who arrived in the country an hour before the match started. Latif also withdrew from the Test complaining of back trouble. There was some dissatisfaction with their South African itinerary, which took up nearly 60 days, though they played on only 24, including one-day games against Nicky Oppenheimer's XI and in the townships, as part of the United Cricket Board's development programme. In Zimbabwe, local umpires lacked experience at top level and did make mistakes.
Pakistan's most encouraging performances came from Inzamam-ul-Haq, who repeatedly rallied their batting after frequent collapses. He was only five short of a deserved century in the second innings at Johannesburg, when they were all out for 165 half an hour into the final day. He did score 101 in Harare and averaged 73.40 in the Zimbabwean Tests and 60.33 in all first-class matches. His most consistent batting support came from Ijaz Ahmed. Malik reached 99 in the Johannesburg Test but it was his only half-century of the tour. Wasim bowled Pakistan to victory in Bulawayo, and Nazir and Aqib Javed played an important role in winning the decisive Third Test. Rightly, however, Inzamam was named as Man of the Series in Zimbabwe, along with Streak, the home team's most consistent player, who took 22 wickets at 13.54.
Salim Malik (Lahore/Habib Bank) (captain), Rashid Latif (Karachi/United Bank) (vice-captain), Aamir Sohail (Lahore/Habib Bank), Akram Raza (Sargodha/Habib Bank), Aqib Javed (Islamabad/Allied Bank), Asif Mujtaba (Karachi/PIA), Ata-ur-Rehman (Lahore), Basit Ali (Karachi/United Bank), Ijaz Ahmed (Lahore), Inzamam-ul-Haq (Multan/United Bank), Kabir Khan (Peshawar), Manzoor Elahi (ADBP), Moin Khan (Karachi/PIA), Saeed Anwar (Karachi/ADBP), Shakeel Ahmed (Islamabad/Habib Bank), Waqar Younis (Multan/United Bank), Wasim Akram (Lahore/PIA).
Wasim missed the first leg of the South African tour with sinus trouble. Aamir Nazir (Islamabad/Allied Bank) joined the tour party when Waqar Younis returned home injured.
Tour manager: Intikhab Alam.
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