The short two-Test series, which ended in a 1-1 draw, saw some impressive performances from both sides. Here’s a look.
Smith: Although South Africa have many top performers, their skipper often makes the big difference because he has the ability to play the long innings. South Africa lost the first Test in spite of a century from Hashim Amla, but when Smith got one in the second Test, he ensured that it was a match-winning one. His 234 was his fifth double hundred, during the course of which he also completed 9000 Test runs. Talk about leading from the front and you have one of the brightest examples in the South African captain.
AB de Villiers: The South African one-day skipper has rarely failed with the bat, and this series was no exception. After being dismissed cheaply in the first innings of the first Test, he responded with a defiant 90 in a losing cause in the second innings. However, at Dubai, he was at his best. His 164 was the second best score in Proteas’ only innings in the Test. He totaled 273 runs in three innings, and also kept wickets, which explains why he was chosen the man of the series.
Misbah-Ul-Haq: Is it surprising that Misbah was Pakistan’s top scorer in the series? As always, the Pakistan skipper was also their most consistent batsmen. He got exactly a 100 in the first innings at Abu Dhabi, and guided the side to victory with an unbeaten 28 in the second. His only failure came when Pakistan were bundled out for 99 in the first innings at Dubai. Misbah’s 88 in the second innings came in a losing cause, but it is something the captain has now gotten used to. Sad, but true.
Imran Tahir: He wasn’t the top wicket-taker in the series, but it was his performance at Dubai that went a long way in ensuring that South Africa could square the series. Tahir did not feature in the first Test but grabbed eight in the second. His spell of 5 for 32 on the opening day saw Pakistan being castled for 99. His wickets included some of the top and middle-order batsmen like Misbah and Asad Shafiq. Pakistan performed better against him in the second essay, but he still grabbed three wickets to play a major role in South Africa’s triumph.
Saeed Ajmal: As it so often happen, Ajmal ended up as the leading wicket-taker in the Test series. His 12 wickets in three innings came at an average of under 24. He picked up an impressive haul of six wickets in Pakistan’s surprise win in the first Test, his 4 for 74 in the second innings was instrumental in Pakistan bowling out South Africa cheaply for the second time in the match. Ajmal did pick up six wickets in the second Test as well, but those came at a very costly price, most of them were actually tailend batsmen.
--By A Cricket Analyst