Everybody knows Pakistan are the most unpredictable team. And they have only strengthened the impression in the first Test against South Africa. The team, which failed to chase a target of 264 runs against minnows Zimbabwe a month ago, has now defeated the world number one side by 7 wickets.

[caption id="attachment_2389" align="alignright" width="244"]Khurram Manzoor, who scored record 146 against South Africa, was declared man of the match (Photo: AFP) Khurram Manzoor, who scored record 146 against South Africa, was declared man of the match (Photo: AFP)[/caption]

It seems that any team on the top spot should play against Pakistan in the UAE to check its worth. England failed in the acid test in 2011-12. And now the Proteas have suffered the same fate in the first Test.

From the day one in Sheikh Zayed Stadium, everything seemed in the favour of Pakistan. Having bowled out South Africa on 249 runs in the first innings, Pakistani openers made a partnership of over 100. Then centuries by debutant Khurram Manzoor and captain Misbahul Haq and a team total of 442 runs against one of the best bowling attacks. And then once again let the opponents to take a lead of only 39 runs. This was the performance of the team which had recently been defeated by the world’s weakest team.

The victory has helped Pakistan take an assailable lead of 1-0 in the two-match series. Moreover, Pakistan have jumped to fourth position from sixth in the Test rankings.

On the other hand, it was the first defeat for South Africa after 15 Tests, and it can only level the series at best.

South Africa decided to bat after winning the toss. The visitors were 245 for 8 after the first day, thanks to excellent performance by Pakistan bowlers. South Africa’s position could have been much worse had Hashim Amla not scored hundred. The only other batsman with respectable runs was JP Duminy, who scored 57. In fact, no other player except Graeme Smith, AB de Villiers and Dales Steyn could hit double-figures.

The 20th century of Amla’s career did help South Africa to remain in the match. But came next day, the end of South Africa’s innings on 249 and a 135-run opening stand by Khurram Manzoor and Shan Masood stifled the Proteas’ hopes.

It was the first 100-run partnership by Pakistan openers in one and a half years. Though Masood (75) could not complete his century, he did help Manzoor clinch his hundred. He scored 146.

Pakistan were in a leading position after the 2nd day and lost only three wickets. On the third day, a hundred by Misbah took Pakistan’s lead to 193, making situation more difficult for South Africa.

Misbah scored exact 100 runs off 187 balls, with the help of 8 fours. When Pakistan’s innings ended on 442, it was necessary for Pakistan to take a wicket or two of South Africa before the third day ended. And bowlers lived up to expectations. Especially, Zulfiqar Babar, who took the day’s most important wicket of Hashim Amla.

The other visiting batsmen who lost their wickets on the third day were Alviro Petersen (17), Graeme Smith (32) and Jacques Kallis (0).

AB de Villers was South Africa’s last hope on the fourth day. He had to find a way out with the help of Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy and by utilising tail-enders. But both batsmen failed to do so. Duminy fell prey to Junaid Khan on duck while du Plessis was dismissed by Saeed Ajmal before Plessis could touch double-digits.

De Villiers made 90 runs and a 57-run partnership with Robin Peterson. But all he could was to delay the defeat, which was becoming more and more inevitable. The last two wickets added 42 runs to South Africa’s total, preventing the team from defeat – for a few hours.

As Pakistan started chasing a 40-run target, the first innings star openers Shan Masood and Khurram Manzoor departed on just 0 and 4. When Pakistan lost their third wicket on 7, it seemed that Pakistan were going to be unpredictable. But, fortunately, they didn’t. The experienced hands of Misbah and Younis led Pakistan to victory. Misbah hit the winning shot – a six to Peterson.

The second and last Test of the series will be played in Dubai International Cricket Stadium from Oct 23-27.
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