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Pak recovery keeps Test alive
13 Jan 2007
By: Sudeep Popat

Despite having conceded the advantage to South Africa, who gained a 104-run lead thanks to Ashwell Prince's century and his 213-run partnership with Herschelle Gibbs, Pakistan fought back hard, ending Day 3 of the first Test at Centurion just one run behind their hosts and with eight second innings wickets still in hand.

Prince, who registered his sixth Test ton, and Gibbs had nearly taken the match out of Pakistan's reach, before the visitors started their comeback. Mohammad Asif was the most instrumental in making sure the Proteas didn't get away with a huge lead, as he picked up 5-89. South Africans, in fact, lost their last six wickets for just 61 runs.

South Africa resumed the day at 254-4, and were looking good the entire first session, with Prince going from 77 to his century, albeit after a couple of really close chances, while Gibbs advancing fluently towards a three-figure-score as well. However, Prince fell right before lunch, stumped off Danish Kaneria for 138.

Immediately after lunch, Mark Boucher, playing in his 100th Test, was dismissed by the leg-spinner, when he sent a leading edge back to the bowler. Gibbs, who hasn't made a century in international Test cricket since January 2005, although he has managed to reach 90s on more than one occasion, had slowed down considerably post-break, was removed too, by Naved-ul-Hasan, for 94. Pakistani bowlers' onslaught continued, as they picked up two more wickets, to reduce the home side to 391-9.

Shaun Pollock, however, cracked a few boundaries during his last-wicket partnership with Makhaya Ntini, to take the score past 400, and the lead past 100. The latter miraculously survived two shouts, which could have easily not gone his way. However, his wicket was eventually accounted for by Asif, ending an annoying little 26-run stand for the last wicket, and thus wrapping up the South African innings at 417.

In reply, Pakistan lost two wickets, but battled out the last session against a disciplined South African bowling attack, and looming thunderstorms and light drizzle. The two wickets to fall were of Mohammad Hafeez, who nicked an outswinger to the first slip, and Yasir Hameed, who was caught behind by Boucher off a similar delivery, but managed to get a thinner nick onto the ball. Both the wickets were taken by Jacques Kallis, whose six-over spell looked like it would bring about a Pakistani collapse.

However, Younis Khan took over from there, and along with Imran Farhat, put on an unbeaten 45-run partnership, before bad light stopped play for the day.

Pakistan 313 and 103-2
Imran Farhat 41*, Younis Khan 32*
Jacques Kallis 2-18

South Africa 417
Hashim Amla 71, Ashwell Prince 138, Herschelle Gibbs 94, Shaun Pollock 39*
Mohammad Asif 5-89, Danish Kaneria 3-97

Pakistan trail by one run, with eight second innings wickets in hand.

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