Inzamam hails 'best' Pakistan victory
by AFP

Ground:St George's Park, Port Elizabeth
Scorecard:South Africa v Pakistan
Player:Inzamam-ul-Haq, GC Smith, SM Pollock, M Ntini, Kamran Akmal, Younis Khan, Mohammad Hafeez
Event:Pakistan in South Africa 2006/07

DateLine: 22nd January 2007


Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq hailed Monday's five-wicket win in the second Test against South Africa at St George's Park as the best of his captaincy career.


"It is not easy for sub-continent teams to win in South Africa," he said. "It is the biggest win for me as captain."


The win, with a day to spare, levelled the series which will be decided in the third and final Test starting at Newlands in Cape Town Friday.


Inzamam was named man of the match for his unbeaten 92 in the first innings which gave Pakistan a crucial lead of 141 after South Africa were bowled out for 124 on the first day. But he said the credit belonged to the team.


He singled out Younis Khan and Kamran Akmal, who came together when Pakistan were a shaky 92 for five in their second innings and took them to the victory target of 191 with an unbeaten partnership of 99. Younis made 67 not out and Akmal 57 not out.


"Definitely we were under pressure (with five down) but they played very well, especially Younis as the senior partner," said Inzamam.


He also praised opening bowler Mohammad Asif, playing in his eighth Test, who took five for 76 in 38 overs in the second innings when Pakistan were reduced to three front-line bowlers following an injury to first innings destroyer Shoaib Akhtar.


"He has bowled very well, moving the ball both ways. We are very happy that a new boy has bowled with his control," said Inzamam.


South African captain Graeme Smith said his team lost the match when they were bowled out cheaply on the first day.


"We played some very good cricket to keep ourselves in the game as long as we did and to give ourselves a chance to win."


The loss ended a streak of three successive wins by South Africa. "Pakistan deserved their victory. They were ahead from day one."


Younis played a solid innings apart from a difficult caught and bowled chance low down to Shaun Pollock when he had five, while Akmal batted aggressively.<


Akmal's first three boundaries, all off Pollock, flew off edges through the slips cordons. Two went between second slip and gully. When Smith moved the gully fielder to third slip, Akmal edged the ball where gully had been.


"That was very frustrating but these things happen in cricket," said Smith. "Once he got to 25 or 30 he played brilliantly. They needed someone to take the game by the scruff of the neck and he did that."


Akmal hurried to his half-century off 61 balls with five more fours. What had been a tense contest ended shortly before tea with a flurry of strokes.


South African hopes were raised when Pakistan, needing 191 to win, were three down with only 48 runs scored.


Younis and Mohammad Yousuf put on 39 before Pakistan had another wobble when Yousuf was caught at gully off Shaun Pollock for 18 and Inzamam was leg before for one when he missed a pull against Ntini.


Smith said South Africa faced a selection dilemma with the series at stake in the final match. He admitted he had hoped his team would wrap up the series in Port Elizabeth so key bowlers Makhaya Ntini and Shaun Pollock could be rested ahead of a five-match one-day series against Pakistan, which will be followed by the World Cup in the West Indies.


"It's a massive call to go into a Test match without both of them," said Smith. "But they have been giving their all and there is not a lot left in the tank for them.


"We need to discuss these things and sit down with them and see what they can do. The big worry now is injury. If they get a big injury now it will be costly."


Smith said the third Test was "huge" but admitted that the prospect of the World Cup changed the team's thinking.


"If the World Cup wasn't there, there would be no talk of resting guys. We want to win the Test series but we want to win the one-day series because you're really hoping to have your World Cup squad together and performing well.


"We've got five (one-day) games before the World Cup for preparation so we've got to look at that as the most important.

(Article: Copyright © 2007 AFP)


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