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Pakistan scrambles to seven-wicket win

Younis, Misbah settle the issue after Philander and Steyn provide early flutter with three quick wickets

Pakistan scrambles to seven-wicket win - Cricket News
Helped by Saeed Ajmal's four wickets, Pakistan bowled South Africa out for 232 in the second innings, before chasing down the target of 40 with seven wickets to spare.
Pakistan suffered a momentary but significant wobble before reaching a target of just 40 runs to beat South Africa by seven wickets in the first Test at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday (October 17).

Having dismissed the South Africans for just 232 at tea on the fourth day, Pakistan lost its top three batsmen with just seven runs on the board but was guided home by Younis Khan (9*) and Misbah-ul-Haq (28*), the senior statesmen, for the country’s fourth Test victory over South Africa.

The second and final Test begins in Dubai on Wednesday with South Africa’s seven-year, 11-series unbeaten record away from home at stake.

Pakistan was made to work hard for much of the day when South Africa resumed from a seemingly hopeless predicament at 72 for four, needing a further 121 to stave off an innings defeat, but never relented in the unrelenting heat of the desert sun.

Dale Steyn’s night watchman vigil lasted almost an hour until the introduction of Zulfiqar Babar, the debutant left-arm spinner who deceived him with flight and spin to clip the top of middle stump, and the prospect of Pakistan batting a second time seemed remote indeed when Faf du Plessis was brilliantly snapped up with a reflex catch by Saeed Ajmal off his own bowling.

But AB de Villiers continued to provide an oasis of defiance in the desert, playing the spinners with the latest and deftest of touches, dabbing and tickling singles before reminding the bowlers of his power by launching Babar straight down the ground for six to bring up his half-century.

An eighth-wicket partnership of 57 with Robin Peterson was dominated by the wicketkeeper, but just as South African dreams of a meaningful – or even semi meaningful – target were being resurrected, de Villiers attempted one punch off the back foot too many and provided Shan Masood with a straightforward catch at cover.

De Villiers’s 90 was a South African record seventh time he had fallen 10 or less runs short of a century, surpassing – if that is the word – Herschelle Gibbs’s six scores in the 90s. Like so many of his most entertaining innings, it was full of improvised shots designed as much to infuriate the bowlers as for runs.

Fury briefly threatened to disrupt the proceedings when a scuffle broke out between Peterson and wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal early on in the left-hander’s plucky, unbeaten 47 when a clumsy attempt to collect the ball in front of the stumps was interpreted by the batsman as an attempt to scuff the pitch. A bit of push and shove resulted which was odd because Peterson, the spin bowler, would have been the prime beneficiary of a damaged wicket if South Africa had managed to post a genuine target.

Ajmal put an end to Peterson’s determined counter-attack by removing his final two partners within the space of three deliveries, Vernon Philander caught behind and the notoriously spin-clueless Morne Morkel who pushed another return catch to the grateful bowler.

Openers Masood (0) and Khurram Manzoor (4) both edged Philander to de Villiers and Azhar Ali provided a low catch to Jacques Kallis at second slip off Steyn, but nobody seriously considered an upset and the senior batsmen made certain there wasn’t one.

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