Cape Town: Graeme Smith described South Africa's four-wicket victory over Pakistan in the second Test as one of the most rewarding wins in his 100 matches as captain of the side. It gave South Africa an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series and was achieved in conditions more suited to the tourists on a turning Newlands wicket, with Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal completing match figures of 10 for 147.
"It is one of the more rewarding victories we have had, a really good Test win," Smith told a news conference on Sunday. We were under pressure on day three and we needed two days of big performances and to get that from the guys was special. The conditions were challenging, it is not often that a spinner plays such a dominant role in South Africa, so to have come through with the win is big for us."
Both Smith and Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq said the 84 scored by man-of-the-match Robin Peterson in South Africa's first innings was the turning point of the game. Peterson came to the wicket with South Africa on 164 for six, still 174 behind Pakistan's first-inning total. By the time he was the last man out, they had closed the gap to just 12 runs.
"Peterson's 84 was the game-changer, if we had managed to get a lead of 70 on this wicket and they were chasing 250 runs, it would have been very difficult for them," Misbah said. When you are chasing 180 then you play with more confidence and freedom. We saw how difficult runs were to come for them on this wicket at the end of the innings, so an extra 70 runs would have made a big difference."
Pakistan were crushed by 211 runs in the first Test, a game in which they were never really in the hunt.
"This hurts more than the first Test, we made mistakes with our batting and you can't afford to do that against the top bowling side in the world. Today, the way we batted, we should blame ourselves for the way we got out. There was a bit of panic in the way we played and that meant we got out. We need to stick to the basic of Test cricket and we didn't do that."
The third and final Test starts at Centurion on February 22.