St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The Matches St George's Park - Khan Steers Pakistan to Victory
Khan Steers Pakistan to Victory
Neale Emslie

PAKISTAN batsman Younis Khan used the experience gleaned from 52 Tests to guide his team to a hard-earned five-wicket win over South Africa to level the Castle Test cricket series at 1-1 going into the third and final Test in Cape Town, starting on Friday.

Resuming play on the fourth day at Sahara Oval St George‘s yesterday on eight for no loss, the tourists went through some periods of anxiety before Khan and Kamran Akmal finally settled the issue shortly before tea in an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 99 in 19 overs.

Pakistan reached their target of 191 with 39 overs and a day to spare.

It might have been different had Shaun Pollock managed to hang on to a caught and bowled chance from Younis when he had five, while the Pakistani, on 17, inched home in a run out appeal which was referred to the TV umpire when Ashwell Prince scored with a direct hit.

Crucially, though, Khan was able to withstand the loss of senior players Mohammad Yousuf (18) and Inzamam-ul-Haq (1) in the space of 15 balls in the hour after lunch, two breakthroughs which suddenly had the South African players and fans very interested in victory.

Akmal also led a charmed existence for a while. Three times he edged deliveries from Pollock perilously close to the slips cordon and had any of those chances gone to hand, the SA attack would have been sniffing at the tail with Pakistan still some way short of their target.

But, without a doubt, this was Pakistan‘s Test, and Akmal, sensing the fizz was going out of the SA attack, blasted nine boundaries in a 64-ball 57, while the admirable Khan spent over three hours and 125 deliveries accumulating 67 not out, with four fours.

Needing wickets to create some sort of pressure, Makhaya Ntini and Pollock struck early and a third came when there was some crazy cricket by Pakistan.

Attempting a quick single to mid-off, Yasir Hameed was beaten by Andre Nel‘s startlingly good pick up and throw to hit the stumps at the non-striker‘s end. Khan and Yousuf settled the situation for a while before South Africa‘s double strike after lunch – again Pollock and Ntini – lifted the home spirits before they were finally extinguished in an impressively controlled fashion by Khan and Akmal, despite those near chances early in their partnership.

Afterwards, Smith gave credit to the Pakistanis for their victory and said South Africa‘s poor first innings effort of 124 had been a telling factor in the final result.

“To be bowled out for 124 in the first innings made life very difficult for us,” Smith said. “I believe we played some good cricket to stay in the game, but Inzy‘s (Inzamam-ul-Haq) 92 in the first innings really helped them and our first innings really let us down.

“We knew yesterday we needed to strike while the ball was still hard and we showed a lot of character. The guys gave their all and you can‘t ask for more than that. But all credit must go to Pakistan.

“It was a well-deserved victory and they led for most of the game.”

Pakistan skipper Inzamam rated the win as one of his best results as captain and was also full of praise for the St George‘s Park pitch. “If you worked hard, you could make runs and there was also something there for the fast bowlers, and the spinners,” he said. “It was a very good Test wicket.”

The Herald
January 23, 2007

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