Second Test Match

South Africa v Pakistan

At Cape Town, January 2, 3, 4, 5, 2003. South Africa won by an innings and 142 runs. Toss: South Africa.

Gibbs and Smith destroyed Pakistan's demoralised bowling with an opening stand of 368, at the time South Africa's best for any wicket. Gibbs, in particular, played shots that caused grown men in the stands to miss their mouths with their sandwiches. South Africa reached 445 by the first-day close, more than they had ever before managed in a day.

Having lost a toss he desperately needed to win, Waqar Younis ran in to bowl the first ball looking like a fun-runner completing the last mile of a charity marathon. Like so many that followed, it was wide and harmless. Despite a sad flogging for an understaffed attack in Durban, the selectors had not dipped into their reserves for reinforcement. The injured Abdul Razzaq was replaced by the tall medium-pacer Mohammad Zahid, playing his first Test in over four years, following major back surgery. He was a very different bowler from the one who took 11 for 130 on debut against New Zealand in November 1996, producing two spells of long-hops and leaking 61 in his first 11 overs.

Gibbs skipped down to hit all the bowlers, inside out, over extra cover, while Smith hooked, pulled and hooked again. Length became increasingly inconsequential as they tried to outdo each other, complete with toothy grins.

After tea, Eddie Barlow and Graeme Pollock's 341 for the third wicket at Adelaide in 1963-64 was erased as South Africa's highest partnership. Soon afterwards, Gibbs reached his double-hundred, from 211 deliveries, the second-fastest ever recorded in terms of balls. He couldn't help dreaming, he later said, of the records that lay within his grasp. But ten overs before the close, he pushed forward with a hint of tiredness to Saqlain Mushtaq, the ball looped off his pad to slip and umpire Venkat raised his finger - to the disbelief of Gibbs and dismay of the crowd. His 228 had lasted six hours 23 minutes and 240 balls, and included 29 fours and six sixes. It was the highest Test score at Newlands.

Next day, Dippenaar and McKenzie helped themselves to very deliberate half-centuries, but it was akin to looting in the aftermath of violent conflict. It seemed impossible that such an innings could end in disappointment, yet it came close when Pollock declared at 620 for seven to have a bowl before tea. Alas, he did not understand how the timings worked, and tea was taken anyway. His declaration left South Africa two short of their highest total, 622 for nine against Australia at Durban in 1969-70. "I didn't know," admitted a sheepish Pollock. His uncle Graeme could have reminded him: he scored 274 that day.

By now, most of the Pakistanis seemed to have lost all will to fight, and they would later be fined their entire match fee for a funereal over-rate. The exception was the determined Taufeeq Umar, who led them to 152 for one. On the third morning, though, Pollock trapped Younis Khan lbw, Ntini backed him up and nine wickets fell for 100. Taufeeq, however, had made a serious impression amid the collapse. Short, left-handed and well balanced, with quick feet and even quicker hands, he clearly had more time to play the ball than any of his team-mates and thoroughly deserved his 135, which occupied five and three-quarter hours with a six and 20 fours - most sweetly timed through the covers.

Taufeeq showed more guts during the follow-on, and not just on the field. Having top-scored again, with a classy 67, he watched from the pavilion as Yousuf Youhana launched a frenzied assault. But for a couple of miscues, he would have hit the fastest recorded Test fifty in balls, although 27, with six fours and two sixes, was still second-quickest. It was also inappropriate to the situation and Taufeeq, in broken English, let it be known how he felt: "I will not speak of that," he seethed through clenched teeth. "I have no comment."

Once Youhana went in the final over of the third day, the rest folded compliantly. And so it was with his second successive massive four-day win - which took South Africa to the top of the ICC Championship - that Shaun Pollock's reign as Test captain ended. Two months later he was sacked. For Gibbs and Smith, memories were not so bittersweet.

Man of the Match: H. H. Gibbs. Attendance: 35,485.
Man of the Series: M. Ntini.

Close of play: First day, South Africa 445-3 (Kallis 19, Dippenaar 8); Second day, Pakistan 141-1 (Taufeeq Umar 85, Younis Khan 44); Third day, Pakistan 184-5 (Faisal Iqbal 2).

© John Wisden & Co