PAKISTAN completed a seven-wicket victory over the Castle Lager Proteas in the first Test match which finished at Abu Dhabi on Thursday with an hour and a full day to spare. It ended an unbeaten run of 15 matches (10 wins and 5 draws) by the World’s No. 1 ranked side.
The Proteas will now attempt to level the series against the world’s No. 6 ranked side at Dubai from next Wednesday.
Even though they had a slight hiccup in sight of the winning post when Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander reduced them to 7/3 in pursuit of a very modest target of 40 – the Proteas do have a recent history of having bowled all of Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan out for totals of less than 50 – the Pakistan victory was never in serious doubt and the two old hands, Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, got their team safely across the line.
Pakistan’s victory was well deserved as they won virtually all 12 sessions while the Proteas, with few exceptions, played below the high standards they have set for themselves over the past two years.
Steyn did well to stick it out as night watchman in support of AB de Villiers for almost an hour on the fourth morning as Pakistan slowly got about the business of chipping away at the wickets. Neither JP Duminy nor Faf du Plessis – the remaining specialist batsmen – were able to offer De Villiers much support but, as long as the latter was at the crease, there was the chance that the Proteas might be able to set Pakistan some sort of target in the fourth innings.
But that was not to be. De Villiers perished just after the mid-afternoon drinks break when only 10 runs short of his fourth century against Pakistan (157 balls, 7 fours and a six). It was an outstanding rearguard action nevertheless.
This dismissal opened the door for Saeed Ajmal to clean up the tail and in the process take his 50th Test wicket in Pakistan’s adopted country of the United Arab Emirates at an average of just under 24.
He was the most successful bowler in the Proteas second innings taking 4/74.
It was Pakistan’s fourth victory over the Proteas and their first since 2007 when the late Bob Woolmer was still their coach.
Khurran Manzoor was named Man of the Match for his first innings century that set up Pakistan’s decisive lead of 193 runs.