Rawalpindi: Pakistan's new Test captain Babar Azam said Monday they can get even better after a historic first series win against South Africa since 2003.
He led Pakistan to a 2-0 sweep over the Proteas in Rawalpindi on Monday in a hard-fought 95-run win on the fifth and final day of the second Test.
"It's a welcome sign but we have to further improve," said an elated Azam, who was leading Pakistan for the first time.
"It was a much-needed win and the best part of this series win is that now we are number five in Test rankings."
The win lifted Pakistan above South Africa in the International Cricket Council's Test rankings, jumping two places to fifth, their best standing since January 2017.
Victory also came on the back of a humiliating 2-0 defeat in New Zealand — a series that Azam missed due to a fractured thumb.
Azam, whose team will now play three Twenty20 internationals against South Africa on 11, 13 and 14 February, all in Lahore, said patience would be required to see the squad's full potential.
"It will take time because it's a new team. I am a new captain and we have made some changes to the squad," he said.
"When you win it lifts your confidence and I am sure this win against South Africa will give us improvement."
Azam hoped the new-look Pakistan team will continue its progress and secure some wins away from its home patch.
"We have won at home, but we now need to win on away tours. I am sure that with time we will do that. We lost in New Zealand and there were so many negative things said, but I am sure that now people will back us."
Pakistan had set South Africa a daunting target of 370 to win.
Opener Aiden Markram scored a fighting 108 and Temba Bavuma 61.
They added 106 runs together for the fourth wicket to give Pakistan a real scare.
But Pakistan took the second new ball and wrapped up the last seven wickets for just 33 runs to bowl South Africa all out for 274.
Medium pacer Hasan Ali — recalled after a year on the sidelines with multiple injuries — took 5-60 to finish with 10-114 in the match.
"Hasan was outstanding, he came after a year but showed character. Yes, at lunch we were thinking that it's getting away.
"At one time, we thought the game would’ve gone either way when Markram and Bavuma were playing well. But we knew, one wicket and we can come back into the game again. And then we did that with the new ball.
"This win was hard-earned, harder than our win in Karachi," said Azam comparing the latest win with the first Test in Karachi where Pakistan won by seven wickets.
Mohammad Rizwan cracked his maiden hundred in Pakistan's second innings of 298.
Losing captain Quinton de Kock hoped his team will learn lessons from the defeat.
"It's painful at the moment," said de Kock who had a lacklustre series, scoring just 46 in four innings.
"When we get back home, we'll have to look at our performances and improve on the way forward."
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The 31-year-old, who was released by Rajasthan Royals, was acquired by Delhi Capitals for Rs 2.2 crore at the IPL auctions last week.
Another source said that all the other players will undergo COVID-19 tests on Tuesday with the results coming by evening. Bihar has sent 22 players for testing.
Nicolaou said Australia didn't give South Africa a chance to clarify the local situation before taking “a unilateral decision.”