|Scorecard:||South Africa v Pakistan|
|Event:||Pakistan in South Africa 2012/13|
DateLine: 21st February 2013
South Africa v Pakistan
3rd Test 2013
Pakistan is all set to take on South Africa in the 3rd and final Test match of the series in Centurion starting from Friday February 22. Earlier, South Africa beat Pakistan comprehensively by 211 runs in the first test and by four wickets in the second test match taking an unbeatable lead of 2-0 and winning the three test match series.
This test may be a dead rubber, but there is still an important historical aspect to consider. If we go back to history, it is worth mentioning here how the great Australian test side of the 1990s and 2000s would often lose dead rubber tests. Actually, frighteningly often for a side who dominated the era with such conviction. Whitewashes became as common as an Aussie with impeccable table manners. Would it not be benchmark of comparison for this great Proteas side, potentially beginning an era of dominance, the ability to win fixtures of little overall importance? It would show a ruthless streak required for ranking dominance, akin to the iconic West Indian side of old.
One would be hesitant to say that it was business as usual for the Proteas at Newlands. Electing to bowl was perhaps a risky decision, but with Vernon Philander in the side coupled with his prolific record at the ground and a bit of rain the night before, the decision could be justified.
The Pakistanis navigated the first innings well despite Philander being on song again and South Africa required a strong reply. The top order faltered horribly against the guile of Ajmal and if it wasn't for Robin Peterson's rearguard fightback of 84, the test could well have been lost right then and there. Instead it would be Pakistan to make the first real mistake of the test, in the third innings, when four wickets went down for five runs at the most crucial of times and effectively ended their hold on the game.
Peterson and Philander began the slide and once Pakistan were dismissed for 169 in the second innings, the Proteas were required to chase 182 for victory. A tricky chase against Ajmal on a turning wicket, but in the end too little to really push the Proteas.
The side will undergo one change ahead of the third test, with Rory Kleinveldt slotting in for the injured Morne Morkel. Morkel pulled up with hamstring trouble in the first innings and only bowled three overs in the second. Kyle Abbott has been added to the squad as support.
Cricket's wandering vagabonds Pakistan provided a stern test for the world's number one ranked side. It was not as precarious a position as South Africa encountered in the first two tests in Australia but was nevertheless a see-saw few days that, at times, inspired a sense of doom at the prospect of facing Saeed Ajmal on a turning wicket chasing a potential 250-plus last innings total.
Ajmal was outstanding, his control and variations were world-class. He is the first off-spinner to take a five-for in the first innings at Newlands since 1970. His ten wickets in the match consistently kept Pakistan in the game but also drew attention to their lack of firepower in the pace department.
Tanvir Ahmed was a mystery choice, his runs at the back of the first innings were valuable but his bowling was far below International standard. Mohammed Irfan proved a test, but one that you would expect the world's best batsmen to pass on a pitch that was not exceptionally racy. He may get a bit more out of Centurion. Umar Gul is still far too inconsistent and as the senior pace bowler and leader of the attack, needs to be the model for the rest of the pace attack to follow. At the moment, he is far from that. Pakistan will wait on the fitness of Junaid Khan. If he recovers from the thigh injury which kept him out of the second Test, Pakistan will be able to line-up a potent trio of pace including Umar Gul and Mohammad Irfan.
Centurion will, as always, provide pace and bounce, especially in the mornings when the ball is likely to nip around significantly. As a batsman, if you can survive the early movement, the ball comes onto the bat nicely and with a quick outfield, there are runs to be had as well. Pakistan have only played one test here in their history, which they lost by 7 wickets in 2007. Hot, sunny days with no rain is the forecast.
South Africa (From): Graeme Smith(c), AB de Villiers(w), Dean Elgar, Rory Kleinveldt, Alviro Petersen, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Robin Peterson, Jacques Rudolph, Imran Tahir, Kyle Abbott
Pakistan (From): Misbah-ul-Haq(c), Sarfraz Ahmed(w), Asad Shafiq, Ehsan Adil, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Umar Gul, Abdur Rehman, Azhar Ali, Faisal Iqbal, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Saeed Ajmal, Taufeeq Umar, Younis Khan, Rahat Ali, Tanvir Ahmed
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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