Cricket: South Africa show why they’re top of tree

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South Africa won the third Test against Pakistan by an innings and 18 runs to complete a 3-0 series win.

The Proteas had won each of the first two Tests with a day to spare and went one better at Centurion, wrapping up the tourists’ second innings for 235 on the third evening. Dale Steyn took four for 80 in the second innings while Kyle Abbott took nine wickets on his Test debut. South Africa had totalled 409 in their first innings with AB de Villiers scoring 121.

Graeme Smith’s men have won six series and now six matches in a row and last lost a Test series in March 2009. They are unbeaten in 12 series and underlined their top ranking in their final Test of the 2012-13 season, having claimed the No 1 position with an away win in England and defended it with a series victory in Australia. The Proteas then whitewashed New Zealand 2-0 and Pakistan 3-0.

“It was a special summer,” said skipper Smith.

A half-century partnership between Sarfraz Ahmed and Saeed Ajmal temporarily held Pakistan together on the third day after South Africa took four wickets after lunch to reduce the tourists to 176-6. But debutant Abbott broke that stand and South Africa swiftly secured victory with left-arm spinner Robin Peterson taking the last wicket.

But it was South Africa’s potent pace attack that decided the series and has been a key factor in the Proteas’ ascent to the top of the Test rankings.