SA scrape to series victory

South Africa survived an early scare to eventually grind their way to a five-wicket victory against Pakistan inside three days at Newlands, with Jacques Kallis and Ashwell Prince carving out crucial half-centuries. The Proteas take the three-match rubber two games to one, their second series win of the Summer having beaten India by the same margin earlier in the month.

But to suggest that Kallis and Prince’s 117-run stand for the fourth wicket as easy going would paint a clouded picture. Coming together just five overs into the day at 39-4 after Mohammad Asif delivered two early strikes for Pakistan, the pair were forced to endure a difficult morning session, which yielded just 40 runs. In all, the duo only managed twelve boundaries between them, most coming once the pressure dropped as the target loomed and Asif showed signs of weariness after a series of carrying almost the entire Pakistan attack on his slender shoulders.

After dismissing nightwatchman Paul Harris with the last ball of the previous evening, Pakistan came out determined to scrape a reward from a hard-fought series. It took just eleven balls for Asif to pin captain Graeme Smith leg-before, and within another four overs Hasim Amla was caught on the crease and edged behind to Kamran Akmal.

However once the threat of Asif had been negotiated, the South African pair had little trouble dealing with either of the other seamers, Shahid Nazir and Mohammad Sami, who was given just one expensive over before being withdrawn from the attack. Prince finished unbeaten on 59, while Kallis fell inches before the finishing line to Nazir’s off-cutter for 51 as South Africa crept to their target of 161 in 64 overs. Both batsmen batted in excess of three hours each.

Kallis was justly awarded the man of the series prize for his stoic, gritty batting and bustling medium-pace, which together provided 272 runs and 10 wickets for the South African cause. Having partially emerged from the drugs scandal shadow that has followed him since the Champions Trophy, Asif has reminded the world just what his true potential is by matching Makhaya Ntini’s series haul of 19 wickets. Coupled with a fully-fit Shoaib Ahktar and Umar Gul, a full-strength Pakistan bowling attack is certainly to be feared by batting lineups across the globe, but if injury problems continue to dog the trio and the World Anti-Doping Agency step in, the likes of Nazir, Sami and Naved-ul-Hasan clearly are not up to scratch in the Test arena.

The two sides now don their coloured clothing for a Twenty20 match on Friday 2 February in Johannesburg, to be followed by a five-match limited overs series as they turn their attention to the forthcoming World Cup.

Pakistan 157 and 186

South Africa 183 and 161-5 (64 overs)
Ashwell Prince 59*, Jacques Kallis 51
Mohammad Asif 2-43, Danish Kaneria 2-52

South Africa won by 5 wickets
South Africa won the three-match series 2-1

Man of the Match: Jacques Kallis
Man of the Series: Jacques Kallis

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