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Kallis and Prince complete tough series victory

South Africa gained their second Test series success of the season, but the five-wicket margin doesn't tell the whole story of the third and final day at Cape Town. Jacques Kallis and Ashwell Prince will play much less well and finish with unbeaten centuries, but their brace of fifties represented hours of toil on a surface that had yielded just two other fifty-plus scores.

What really gives the full picture of their 117-run stand is the numbers. It took 272 balls and of the 12 boundaries most came when the target reduced and the pressure relaxed. Although the match closed with a series of flowing shots, it was only because of their earlier graft that it was possible. Kallis's fifty took 146 balls and Prince's 132; it took them 93 and 79 balls respectively just to reach 20.

They wore the bowlers down, most notably Mohammad Asif who finally showed signs of tiredness as his last spell leaked runs. The surprise, though, is that he didn't reach his limit earlier. After nearly 126 overs in three Tests - two of which ended well before time - and regular spells of eight-plus overs, he has been firmly established as the leader of the pack.

Kallis couldn't quite see the match through to the end, bowled by a tidy off-cutter from Shahid Nazir, but ended with the Man-of-the-Series award for 272 runs and 10 wickets. Prince could have gone too, dropped by Kamran Akmal who completed a forgettable series with the gloves as he made a complete hash of an inside edge. There wasn't much between the sides, and those sorts of mistakes highlighted why South Africa came away with the spoils.

After their shock defeat to India in the first Test of the season their form has taken a largely upward curve, save for last week's loss at Port Elizabeth. They have fought against tired legs and minds wandering towards the World Cup. Two series victories in a summer starts their push back up the Test ladder but, for the first two hours of the day, Pakistan made them fight with all they had.

A tight and tense session brought just 40 runs in 29.5 overs as Pakistan applied suffocating pressure through their two stand-out bowlers, Mohammad Asif and Danish Kaneria. It took more than 21 overs for the batsmen to score anything other than a single and even then it was two leg-byes. Kallis and Prince came together early after Asif's early strikes brought Pakistan right back into contention. He pinned Graeme Smith in front with one that nipped back into the left-hander then stitched up Hashim Amla with a stunning over, ending with an edge to Akmal.

Sometimes it is easy to criticise batsmen for not take the initiative - rewind to England at Adelaide in December - but on this occasion the bowling was purely outstanding and the pitch difficult. The difference in quality between Asif and other pacemen was shown when Mohammad Sami's lone over went for nine, including the only two boundaries of the morning.

Kaneria kept the pressure on the batsmen and umpires with plenty of appeals for catches around the bat. Ripping leg-breaks beat Kallis while the googly continued to trouble Prince. But crucially, and not for the first time, wickets evaded him when more was expected. Too many of Pakistan's hopes rested on too few.

This is the last Test to finish before the World Cup, and now it's one-day cricket all the way, but the series has provided a grand send-off while the whites go into a three-month hibernation.



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