RAWALPINDI: Paceman Hasan Ali starred with a maiden 10-wicket haul as Pakistan completed a historic 2-0 whitewash of South Africa after more than 17 years of wait by winning the second Test by 95 runs on the fifth and final day here at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Monday.
The outcome of the two-match series, after the hosts emerged winners in the first Test at Karachi by seven wickets, was extremely satisfying from Pakistan’s perspective as they unseated South Africa from fifth while jumping two places in the ICC Test team rankings in Babar Azam’s first series as skipper in the red-ball format. The demoted South Africans are now sixth in the table, followed by Sri Lanka, while New Zealand — who have already qualified for the World Test Championship final following the postponement of Australia’s tour to South Africa — India, Australia and England currently occupy the top four spots.
Pakistan’s only other series victory against South Africa was also achieved on home soil when they claimed the two-match rubber 1-0 in October 2003, but it is the first time in seven years that Pakistan went on to sweep a series, defeating Michael Clarke’s Australia team 2-0 during 2014-15 offshore venue of the United Arab Emirates. Moreover, the latest triumph is the first time that Pakistan won every match of a home series of two or more Tests since 2003 when they blanked Bangladesh 3-0.
South Africa, who were chasing a daunting 370, crumbled against the second new ball after lunch when they subsided from 241-3 to 274 all out, some 26 minutes before tea on the final day. The infamous tag of chokers yet again badgered them with seven wickets tumbling for 33 runs in 68 deliveries in a mind-boggling period as Hasan, named man-of-the-match, finished with five for 60 in 16 overs — giving the 26-year-old match bag of 10-114 — and the lanky left-armer Shaheen Shah Afridi 4-51 from 21 overs.
Fighter Rizwan named man of the series
Leg-spinner Yasir Shah, however, had the honour of capturing the last wicket when Wiaan Mulder attempted to heave but missed the line altogether to be cleaned up for 20. In contrast to the team’s shambolic performance in both Tests, Aiden Markram was the solitary shining light for South Africa with his first century in almost three years on the last day of the series.
Markram scored a defiant 108 — the 26-year-old right-handed opener’s fifth Test ton, but first outside South Africa — after also top-scoring for the touring side with a second-innings 74 during the Karachi Test.
South Africa’s chances of accomplishing the biggest fourth-innings chase by any team against Pakistan hinged on how the overnight partnership of Markram and Rassie van der Dussen was going to shape up after they began last day of the series at 127-1. In a matter of few minutes the South African dressing-room was in despair when van der Dussen and Faf du Plessis got dismissed in the space of only eight runs.
Hasan hit the bull’s eye with just the third ball of the morning when he knocked back the leg stump of van der Dussen — who didn’t add to his Sunday’s tally of 48 — with a magnificent delivery that dipped late in the air into the right-hander.
The demise of du Plessis (5 off 13 balls) was on the cards when he was pinned on the back foot and found himself trapped leg-before-wicket by Hasan. The former captain endured a miserable tour as testified by meagre total of 55 runs from four innings at 13.75.
With those double strikes Pakistan were firmly in the driving but only to be left frustrated by the dogged partnership between Markram and Temba Bavuma — the diminutive right-hander who had being the highest score in the first innings with an undefeated 44 — which was not only progressed nicely but also raised hopes for a series-levelling victory when South Africa had advanced to 219-3 at lunch with Markram going to exactly 100 on the last ball of the 135-minute first session.
At that stage, the equation had come down to either South Africa make history by getting the remaining 151 runs or Pakistan breaking up the threatening stand soon after the interval. The arrival of second new ball did the trick for the home.
Markram’s long vigil finally was over after five hours and 37 minutes of crease occupation. Imran Butt may not have done himself justice with the bat in the series but his assured catching in the slip cordon was exemplary. Stationed at second slip, he made no mistake when a thick edge off Hasan flew into his direction.
The dose was repeated on the very next ball too as Quinton de Kock — who had been visibly burdened by the Test captaincy — fell to the same bowler-fielder combination when the left-hander chose to drive but just managed to get a thick edge. De Kock mustered only 46 runs in the series at 11.50 with a best of 29.
The departure of Markram — who struck 12 fours and three sixes in his 243-ball knock — though, was critical since it terminated his 106-run partnership with Bavuma, who was sixth out at 253 after scoring a 125-ball 61 (six boundaries) six minutes under three hours, with Mohammad Rizwan catching him behind off Shaheen.
The had set in as George Linde, last of the recognized batsmen, slapped Hasan to a tumbling Faheem Ashraf for four before Imran took his third catch in the slips when Keshav Maharaj went for a drive against Shaheen. Two balls later, Kagiso Rabada too had gone, cleaned up for a duck to leave Pakistan on the brink of victory that came swiftly in the next over.
Pakistan’s sixth success in 28 Tests against South Africa, who had been winners 15 times, had also considerably released the tension which had gripped both head coach Misbah-ul-Haq and bowling coach Waqar Younis after the 2-0 drubbing in New Zealand during the previous series.
PAKISTAN (1st Innings) 272 (Faheem Ashraf 78 not out, Babar Azam 77, Fawad Alam 45; A. Nortje 5-56, K.A. Maharaj 3-90).
SOUTH AFRICA (1st Innings) 201 (T. Bavuma 44 not out; Hasan Ali 5-54)
PAKISTAN (2nd Innings) 298 (Mohammad Rizwan 115 not out, Nauman Ali 45; G.F. Linde 5-64, K.A. Maharaj 3-118).
SOUTH AFRICA (2nd Innings, overnight 127-1):
A.K. Markram c Imran b Hasan 108
D. Elgar c Rizwan b Shaheen 17
H.E. van der Dussen b Hasan 48
F. du Plessis lbw b Hasan 5
T. Bavuma c Rizwan b Shaheen 61
Q. de Kock c Imran b Hasan 0
P.W.A. Mulder b Yasir 20
G.F. Linde c Faheem b Hasan 4
K.A. Maharaj c Imran b Shaheen 0
K. Rabada b Shaheen 0
A. Nortje not out 2
EXTRAS (LB-2, NB-7) 9
TOTAL (all out, 91.4 overs) 274
FALL OF WKTS: 1-33 (Elgar), 2-127 (van der Dussen), 3-135 (du Plessis), 4-241 (Markram), 5-241 (de Kock), 6-253 (Bavuma), 7-258 (Linde), 8-268 (Maharaj), 9-268 (Rabada), 10-274 (Mulder).
BOWLING: Shaheen Shah Afridi 21-6-51-4 (4nb); Hasan Ali 16-2-60-5 (3nb); Nauman Ali 20-6-63-0; Yasir Shah 23.4-5-56-1; Faheem Ashraf 10-2-37-0; Fawad Alam 1-0-5-0. RESULT: Pakistan won by 95 runs to win two-match series 2-0. UMPIRES: Aleem Dar (Pakistan) and Ahsan Raza (Pakistan). TV UMPIRE: Asif Yaqoob (Pakistan). MATCH REFEREE: Mohammad Javed Malik (Pakistan). MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Hasan Ali. MAN-OF-THE-SERIES: Mohammad Rizwan. FIRST TEST: Karachi, Pakistan won by seven wickets.
Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2021