Finally Pakistan managed to win a One day International series against South Africa, though after a very long and hard struggle. In this way, Pakistan completed their set of series victories in all three formats against the South Africans.
Pakistan had defeated South Africa in a Test series in 2003 at home and had scripted their first T20 series triumph during their tour in March this year.
But one off series victories in the three formats of the game in 21 years can’t be called a satisfactory performance by any standard, especially for a side playing international cricket for more than 60 years and having won ODI and T20 World Cups.
This kind of performance is acceptable for a low ranked team. It would have been okay had it come from New Zealand or Bangladesh, who have never won any World Cup.
This is a poor record for a side that has beaten all leading teams of the world and has enjoyed a respectable position since attaining Test status.
Pakistan and South Africa have played 10 Test rubbers, eight ODI and five T20 International bilateral series during the last 21 years.
Pakistan took more than 10 years to score their maiden ODI series victory against South Africa, but it was not their longest struggle for an ODI series victory against a Testplaying nation. They took some 14 years to taste their first ODI series success against the West Indies. The green flag-bearers played their first ever bilateral ODI rubber against West Indies in 1976-77 but managed to beat them in 1990 in their sixth attempt.
It’s interesting to note that Pakistan thrashed England (1974), India (1978-79) and Australia (1982-83) in their first ever bilateral ODI series.
Pakistan also had a couple of opportunities to break the ODI series drought against South Africa but they squandered those chances due to one reason or the other. Pakistan began their ODI confrontation with South Africa in a 1992 World Cup clash and kept on playing with the strong South African side in multi-nation events for a decade.
In 2002-03, Pakistan played their maiden bilateral ODI series against the Proteas at their grounds where the competition remained completely onesided in favour of the hosts.
Pakistan’s ODI history presents a not-so-impressive look as far as series wins are concerned.
Pakistan launched their ODI career with a 22-run defeat against New Zealand at Christchurch on Feb 11, 1973.
Pakistan played as many as 87 bilateral ODI series against seven major Test-playing nations during the last 40 years. They emerged victorious in 38 and suffered defeats in 49.
It is interesting to note here that Pakistan contested 35 ODI rubbers in the first 20 years of their limited-overs career and participated in 52 such series in the later 20 years against the leading teams.
Pakistan has a good winning record against Sri Lanka (60.54), New Zealand (59.19) and India (58.67). But poor winning proportions against South Africa (32.85), Australia (36.62), England (40.00) and West Indies (44.84) raises many questions about Pakistan’s status in the world.
Pakistan have played 16 ODI series against New Zealand -- six at home, nine away and one at a neutral venue.
Arch-rivals India (H-7, A-5, N-3) and West Indies (H-6, A-6, N-3) had 15 ODI rubbers against Pakistan each followed by England (H-5, A-8, N-1) with 14 such rubbers.
Pakistan have faced Sri Lanka (H-6, A-5, N-1) in 12, South Africa (H-2, A-4, N-2) in eight and Australia (H-4, A-2, N-1) in seven ODI series so far.
The South Africans were all set to celebrate the landmark of 500 ODIs in the second game at Port Elizabeth but the capricious Pakistan cricket team tarnished their festivities with an upset 1-run victory.
It is an interesting coincidence that South Africa also defeated Pakistan by the same one-run margin in their 800th ODI at Sharjah exactly one month ago on Oct 30, 2013.
Overall, it was the 28th instance of 1-run victory in the ODI history. It may be recalled here that history’s first-ever one-run win was also recorded against Pakistan.
It was in Oct 1976, when New Zealand defeated Pakistan with the slimmest margin in Sialkot.
In the second ODI, Pakistan fast bowler Anwar Ali became the fourth Pakistani and fifth overall player to be dismissed for ëObstructing the Field’ in ODI history.
Pakistan’s former skipper Ramiz Raja was the first player to be given out in this fashion, against England in Karachi in 1987.
India’s Mohinder Amarnath (vs Sri Lanka in Ahmedabad in 1989), ex-Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq (vs India in 2006) and Mohammad Hafeez (vs South Africa in Durban in 2013) are the other players to have been given out for obstructing the field.