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Pakistan show signs of resurgence with series win over South Africa

Pakistan cricket may have been in difficult times recently, but the nation’s cricket team have just recorded an excellent Test series victory over South Africa. This saw the hosts Pakistan cruising to a 2-0 clean sweep over the visitors and suggests that a long overdue Pakistan cricketing resurgence could finally be here.

In terms of Test rankings, Pakistan have found themselves slipping behind New Zealand, Australia, England and India in recent years. But the victory against South Africa signals the fact that there might be big changes afoot in the Pakistan team.

Pakiston’s second Test victory over South Africa in Rawalpindi showed off the bowling power of Hasan Ali. With match bowling figures of 10-114, it showed how the 26-year old is becoming a key part of the Pakistan pace attack. With further support from Shaheen Afridi’s 4-51, the South Africa batting line-up could only manage 201 in the first innings.

Left chasing an unlikely 370 in the second innings, South Africa were left short by 95 runs. Despite a spirited 108 from Aiden Markram, the Pakistan bowling attack managed to remove the last seven South African wickets for just 33 runs

Of course, the victory wasn’t just about the resurgent Pakistan bowling attack. There were strong first innings batting performances from Babar Azam and Faheem Ashraf who scored 77 and 78 not out respectively after Pakistan slumped to 22-3. Such batting collapses will need to be fixed if Pakistan wishes to stay competitive in the future.

But it was Mohammed Rizwan’s unbeaten 115 in the second innings that probably put the game beyond South Africa’s reach. Plus the tail-ender Nauman Ali managed to score an impressive 45 runs off 78 balls to make sure that South Africa faced a near-impossible task to win the game.

Nauman had previously impressed during his debut outing in the first Test against South Africa. At 34-years of age, Nauman might have taken his time in reaching international level cricket, but he produced excellent figures of 5-35 in the visitor’s second innings. Further strong bowling performances were shown with Yasir Shah’s match figures of 7-133.

The first Test also gave Fawad Alam further opportunities to show his batting prowess. The 35-year old was given the Player of the Match award after his 109 rescued the Pakistan batting that had slumped to 36-4. It was a remarkable performance from Fawad who continues his impressive run since returning to the Pakistan squad after an absence of more than a decade.

Credit must  also be given to the Pakistan captain Babar Azam who planned for the slower track of Karachi with intelligent changes in the bowling attack and fielding. With positives taken from both batting and bowling, it’s understandable why many of the bookmakers featured at are now starting to shorten their odds for further Pakistan success in Test match cricket.

The victories over South Africa will have been all the more enjoyable in light of a disastrous series in New Zealand earlier in the winter. While New Zealand are arguably the best Test cricket team in the world, there was little excuse for Pakistan’s performance in the second Test. This saw Pakistan losing by an innings and 176 runs. It was a bitter experience for the Pakistan batsmen who proved to be completely unable to deal with the bowling attack of Kyle Jamieson.

The fact that New Zealand scored 659-6 with a double century from Kane Williamson gave Pakistan all of the impetus they needed to rethink their bowling attack. While the first Test in New Zealand was much tighter, the whole series underlined just how far Pakistan have to go to stay competitive.

Following a series of three one-day internationals against South Africa, Pakistan can then start making preparations for a summer white ball series in England. This is the England team who have just scored a remarkable first Test victory over India in Chennai, and Pakistan will need to raise their game to compete. But after a positive result against South Africa, it seems that the future is looking increasingly positive for the Pakistan cricket team.

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