Second Test Match

Pakistan v South Africa

Brian Murgatroyd

At Faisalabad, October 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 2003. Drawn. Toss: South Africa.

South Africa's fallibility in the field cost them the chance of squaring the series. Four catches were dropped as they pressed for victory on the final afternoon and, although three of them were not expensive, the other proved fatal.

Ntini and Pollock had struck with successive deliveries with the second new ball and were rampant. There was more than an hour left to play and Shoaib Malik and Moin Khan, Pakistan's last recognised batsmen, were at the crease. Twice Shoaib involuntarily fenced Ntini through the slips; then, surprised by a lifting ball that cut back sharply, he somehow fended it to fine leg off the shoulder of the bat. Kirsten, whose batting had helped get South Africa into a winning position, moved to his right but grassed a waist-high chance. With it went South Africa's hopes of victory.

Pakistan themselves had flirted with the win on the last afternoon as, after a painfully slow start to the day, their batsmen suddenly realised that the pitch was still good and that most of South Africa's attack held few terrors. But Ntini and Pollock closed down that avenue.

It could be argued that neither side deserved to win. Pakistan adopted unduly negative tactics on day four and South Africa had a horrific first day. Against an attack missing both the suspended Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami, who was ill, their batsmen fell to a series of indiscreet strokes on a blameless pitch. The honourable exception was Gibbs, who drove beautifully and showed admirable restraint until he was undone by Mushtaq Ahmed's googly.

The start of the Pakistan innings followed a similar pattern to the First Test, with Taufeeq Umar and Imran Farhat looking largely untroubled except by a toy kite, fluttering over deepish mid-off, which stopped play for a while. This time it was Farhat, strong square of the wicket and unafraid to use his feet, who went on to three figures. Having put aside many of his aggressive instincts, he was rewarded with his maiden hundred in his sixth match.

When Kallis dropped an edge from Inzamam - back in the side in place of the hamstring victim Yousuf Youhana - off Pollock on the second evening, South Africa appeared doomed. But as at Lahore they fought back admirably on day three. Ntini and Pollock raced in with the new ball with the former producing his first meaningful spell of the series and the latter claiming his 16th five-for in Tests. Pakistan's lead was just 70.

Three wickets that evening kept the match on a knife-edge. Pakistan's scalps included Smith, but only after he had become the fourth South African (after Hansie Cronje, Gibbs and Kallis) to score 1,000 Test runs in a calendar year when he reached 57. On day four, however, a combination of Kirsten's doggedness and Pakistani negativity tipped the match the way of the visitors. Kirsten was patience personified on the ground where he carried his bat six years earlier, and his 19th Test hundred was full of trademark cuts, clips off the hip and rock-solid defence. He eventually fell in identical fashion to the first innings, caught cutting at Abdul Razzaq to give Taufeeq his sixth catch of the match, a Pakistan record.

The home side were handicapped by an under-the-weather Danish Kaneria and an under-performing Razzaq, but they appeared content to sit back and wait for a declaration rather than take the match by the throat, slowing the over-rate and opting for defensive fields. When they batted again, they kept wickets in hand and the possibility of victory alive until the final session, aided by three missed chances, two by Boucher off Peterson, who outbowled his fellow left-arm spinner Adams.

Then Inzamam inexplicably shouldered arms to Ntini, and Razzaq did the same to the next ball, bowled by Pollock. Now only South Africa could win, and they might have done so if Kirsten had grabbed that chance at fine leg. With fading light also an issue, the South Africans' cause was not helped on the final day by the need to take drinks inside the dressing-room because of the religious festival of Ramadan. But although both Moin and Shoaib enjoyed some luck, they also showed admirable resolve.

Men of the Match: Taufeeq Umar and G. Kirsten. Man of the Series: Taufeeq Umar

© John Wisden & Co