| NTINI: A consistent threat
Cape Town: Pakistan will look to salvage the series and what remains of their shattered pride when the second and final Test against South Africa starts in Cape Town on Thursday.
Waqar Younis’ team has experienced the full gamut of emotions on their roller-coaster tour of southern Africa.
They strode unchallenged through Zimbabwe, winning both Tests and all five one-day Internationals. In South Africa, Pakistan were stopped in their tracks by a team that has regained their composure following the mauling they were dealt by Australia last season.
Shaun Pollock, never the most natural of captains, made significant progress towards coming to terms with his role. Fast bowler Makhaya Ntini matured into a consistent threat and, together with steadily developing opening batsman Graeme Smith, gave South Africa a glimpse of a future beyond veterans Allan Donald and Gary Kirsten.
The chinks in Pakistan’s armour were clear by the time they limped into Durban for the Boxing Day Test. The most glaring of these was the confusing status of express bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who had been ordered home by team management to recover from a knee injury. Instead, Shoaib remained in South Africa and found the time to socialise with visiting Bollywood film stars.
Pakistan, always on the back foot in Durban after being dismissed for 161 in their first innings despite a long batting line-up, will need to perform with much more discipline in Cape Town. Batsman Faisal Iqbal could make way for Hasan Raza towards that end.
“We played really well in Zimbabwe, but since we came here we haven’t delivered what we are capable of,” Waqar said.
Coach Richard Pybus added: “South Africa have played better cricket than us in the last month.”
South Africa have named the same squad, bar paceman Steve Elworthy, for the second Test.