'Pakistan cricket back with a bang': Jubilation after first series win over S. Africa in 18 years

Cricketing greats laud Pakistan's composure, congratulate Hasan Ali for making a splendid comeback with maiden 10-wicket haul.
Published 08 Feb, 2021 08:07pm

Members of the cricketing world and those outside heaped praise on the Pakistan Cricket team for securing their first series win over South Africa since 2003, with special laurels going seamer Hasan Ali's way for his magnificent Test comeback.

Hasan took a career-best 10 wickets in the match as the hosts blitzed South Africa with the new ball on Monday to complete a 95-run victory in the second and final Test in Rawalpindi and claim the series 2-0.

Chasing a target of 370 for victory, which would have been a Test record in Pakistan, South Africa were well placed at 241 for three just after lunch on the fifth day following a century from Aiden Markram (108).

But when the home side took the new ball, Hasan (5-60) and Shaheen Shah Afridi (4-51) decimated the South African middle order with expert swing bowling to dismiss the visitors for 274.

Hasan took career-best figures of 10-114 in the match as South Africa lost their last seven wickets for the addition of only 33 runs.

It was yet another dismal batting collapse, something that has been a feature of their cricket home and away for the last few years, but on this occasion it was brought about by some high-class seam bowling.

Needless to say, skipper Babar Azam, who now has a series win on his Test captaincy debut under his belt, was proud.

"What makes me absolutely proud of my pack is their never say die attitude. [...] Even sky is not the limit for us," he tweeted.

Commenting on the splendid victory, Pakistan's fiery fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar said: "Pakistan cricket is back with a bang."

He said Hasan and Afridi's hauls "reminded us of the era of [the] two W's" — a reference to Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.

West Indian great Sir Vivian Richards praised the "Great composure from Pakistan to win the game & the series at home", saying the victory will "mean a lot to the players, management & especially the fans".

The team even earned praise from President Arif Alvi, who tweeted: "Congratulations to our Cricket team for winning the series against South Africa. Excellent performances by Hassan Ali and Rizwan in this match too. Well fought South Africa. Pakistan now welcomes the world of cricket to our beautiful country."

Former Pakistan women's cricket captain, Sana Mir, congratulated Hasan on "an incredible Test comeback" and lauded the team's "brilliant performance".

PTI leader Jahangir Khan Tareen attributed the series win to a "great team effort overall" and praised Hasan and Mohammad Rizwan's performances in particular.

Reflecting on Pakistan's spectacular bowling spell, cricket statistician Mazher Arshad said "cricket [is] back in Pakistan so is fast bowling. In 5 Tests since the return, Pakistan pacers have taken 4 five-wicket hauls and a hat-trick (Naseem Shah)".

Pakistan all-rounder Imad Wasim credited Hasan and the team's "great show of wonderful bowling" for the win.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar congratulated the team on a "remarkable" Test series win. "It is great to see international sides visiting Pakistan for Test matches. Looking forward to an equally thrilling T20 series in Lahore," he tweeted.

Sports presenter and analyst Zainab Abbas felicitated the hosts on "a fine win" against the Proteas, remarking that there was "nothing quite like winning a Test match with the help of pacers".

Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt termed the victory "a much-needed win!" for Pakistan. He also commended Babar's confidence and Hasan's comeback.

Bowling all-rounder Sohail Tanvir termed Hasan's double five-wicket hauls a "dream comeback in Test cricket".

Header image: Pakistan's Shaheen Shah Afridi, centre, celebrates with teammates after the dismissal of South Africa's Kagiso Rabada during the fifth day of the second Test match between Pakistan and South Africa at the Pindi Stadium in Rawalpindi, Monday. — AP