Pakistan suffered yet another Test series defeat - and it was a whitewash in South Africa. It was the second Test series defeat in two months. Before surrendering in South Africa, the Green-shirts had lost their “home” Test series against New Zealand by 1-2 in the UAE last month.
It was South Africa’s seventh consecutive Test series win at home. After the series win against Pakistan, South Africa overtook New Zealand and England, moving to second position in the ICC Test Team ranking.
Pakistan slipped again to the seventh place behind Sri Lanka.
Batting failure is an old story for Pakistan. How the batting miserably failed in South Africa can be judged from the fact that Pakistan managed the 200-mark only twice in six innings. No batsman reached three figures in three Tests. Asad Shafiq’s 88 in the second Test at Cape Town was the highest individual score from Pakistan.
Shan Masood remained the most successful batsman from Pakistan with 228 runs, averaging 38 with two fifties. Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed also scored two fifties each. Sarfraz and Azhar Ali failed to open their accounts in three and two innings, respectively.
Azhar had a miserable series with just 59 runs in six innings, averaging just 9.83.
South Africa’s wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock remained the most successful batsman of the Test series with 251 runs, including one hundred and one half-century, at an average of 62.75. de Kock improved his ranking from 26th to 14th.
The inconsistent batting performance is the number one reason why the Green-shirts have never been able to perform on a consistent basis at the international level.
The openers have remained a longstanding problem for Pakistani team, especially on green surfaces. The team management and captains have been experimenting with openers but the issue is still there.
Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq have been relatively successful in ODIs but in the longest version of the game their performances have not been impressive. Fakhar got out cheaply in all innings. The opponent teams have found his weakness in his habit of chasing the deliveries outside the off stump.
Pace and bounce created problems for the Pakistani batsmen during the Test series. Except Vernon Philander, all South African fast bowlers bowled at over 140kph while Pakistani pacers operated at around 135kph.
Young fast bowler Duanne Olivier, who got his chance in the first Test because of Vernon Philander’s injury, was the major difference between the two teams. He took 24 wickets in three matches at an average of just 14.70. He took five wickets in an innings thrice and 10 wickets in a match once.
Olivier not only received the player-of-the-series award but also reached a career-best 24th position.
Mohammad Amir was the most successful bowler for Pakistan with 12 wickets, averaging 23.58. With his impressive performance, Amir moved from 36th to 31st position.
Amir is more effective abroad than at our UAE home. He played only four Tests out of the ten Pakistan have played in the UAE since his return. In those four Tests, against West Indies and Sri Lanka, Amir averaged 56.42 for his seven wickets.
During the series, fast bowler Dale Steyn became South Africa’s highest Test wicket taker, surpassing Shaun Pollock who took 421 wickets. Steyn did so in his 89th Test. Pollock had taken 108 matches to reach there.
There was no major role of spinner in the Test series. Shadab Khan took four wickets in his only Test. Yasir Shah conceded 123 runs for one wicket in two Tests.
During the third Test, Pakistan skipper Sarfraz set a new wicket-keeping record by taking 10 catches. His total of ten dismissals in the match was one better than the record previously shared by Rashid Latif and Kamran Akmal. He also set a record for a Pakistan wicketkeeper by taking five catches in each innings.