Proteas on brink of series victory

Pakistan forced the second Castle Lager test against South Africa into the fourth day after being bowled out for 294 in their second innings at the end of the third day at PPC Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

Pakistan looked solid at tea with their total on 177 for three with Asad Shafiq well-set on 73 and Babar Azam on 16 but Dale Steyn (19-2-85-4) led a late fightback which saw Pakistan slump to 247 for eight and then 270 for nine late in the day before Kagiso Rabada (16.4-2-61-4) had Shaheen Afridi (14) caught by Vernon Philander at mid-off.

With the wicket falling just after 6pm local time, the umpires conferred and called time on the day’s play meaning South Africa will need to score 41 runs on day four to win the match and clinch the three-match series.

“Well the captain and the coach made the decision. They felt that trying to bat for five overs and get 41 runs was not worth it, so we’ll just come tomorrow and knock them off,” stated Rabada at the end of the day’s play.

South Africa thought they had captured the last wicket of Mohammad Abbas late in the but the umpires called the players back to the field after seeing that Philander (19-6-51-1) had overstepped. Abbas (10 not out) and Afridi had some fun with the short balls being bowled at them and ended the day having frustrated the South African attack for longer than what Faf du Plessis would have liked.

“Nothing like the last half hour has ever happened to me. We were in a rush, and Dale was bowling off a quarter run-up and then the dramatic no-ball and then for all of that to happen we decide not to go out and bat,” said Rabada to laughs at the press conference.

Shafiq and Shan Masood did extremely well to solidy their position with a stand 132 for the third wicket before tea but Steyn had Masood caught behind by Quinton de Kock for 61 which opened the door. Shafiq and Azam added 35 for the fourth wicket but then Shafiq gloved Philander to De Kock for a well-played 88 which came in 165 minutes and included 12 boundaries and a six.

“The Pakistan batsmen came out aggressive and they played well, they got the rate well up,” said Rabada.

Once Shafiq departed, the rest of the Pakistan wickets started to fall. Rabada then had Fakhar Zaman caught and bowled for seven before Duanne Olivier (16-3-84-1) trapped Sarfraz Ahmed (6) in front. Mohammad Amir fell without scoring, gloving Steyn to De Kock before Azam and Yasir Shah stopped the rot with a stand of 26 for the eighth wicket.

“There are stages where you have to show resilience, and once you show the resilience you will get rewarded, then the flood gates will open, and that is exactly what happened today,” said Rabada.

“Asad Shafiq and Shan Masood played very well as well as Babar Azam. Today was a toiling day but it wouldn’t be test cricket if it was too easy,” added the world’s Number 1 test bowler.

Azam and Abbas then frustrated for another 23 runs while the final wicket pairing added a further 24 runs.

South Africa had resumed the third day with their total on 382 for six with De Kock on 55 and Vernon Philander on six but Mohammad Amir (4-88) took the fight to the home side and claimed three quick wickets in the morning session, dismissing De Kock (59), Philander (16) and Rabada (11) before Shaheen Afridi (4-123) finished off the South African innings on 431 by dismissing Steyn for 13.

Pakistan began their second innings 254 runs in arrears and were soon in trouble after the wickets of Imam-ul-Haq and Azhar Ali but Masood and Shafiq guided their side to lunch on 37 for two.

South Africa had dominated the opening two days of the second test after winning the first test in Centurion to go 1-0 up in the three-match test series. Faf du Plessis had won the toss and asked Pakistan to bat first on Thursday and his four-pronged seam attack duly responded, dismissing the visitors for 177 at tea on day one with Duanne Olivier claiming 4-48.

Steyn (3-48), Rabada (2-35) and Philander (1-36) all provided excellent support to Olivier who had claimed the man of the match award at Supersport Park in the opening test. Only Sarfarz Ahmed (56), Shan Masood (44) and Amir (22 not out) provided any form of resistance to the South African pace onslaught.

In reply, South Africa closed out the first day’s play on 123 for two after Elgar (20) and Aiden Markram (78) had put on 56 for the opening stand. Markram and Hashim Amla (24) carried their side to the close before Markram fell, bowled by Masood (1-19) with the final ball of the day.

Day two belonged to South Africa and Du Plessis with the Proteas captain scoring his ninth test ton and first against Pakistan. Du Plessis went on to make 103 while putting on 156 runs for the fifth wicket with Temba Bavuma (75).

Once Du Plessis and Bavuma departed, De Kock continued to torment the visiting bowling attack by bringing up his 14th test fifty off only 59 deliveries before he and Philander carried their side to stumps on 382 for six.

Author: Brendon

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