Honours even as wickets tumble
26 Jan 2007
By: Alex Crampton
Today's play bears a striking resemblance to the first day of the second Test against Port Elizabeth. There 260 runs were added for the loss of 16 wickets, today it was 288 for 15.
While Pakistan were on top a week ago, it is South Africa who will be slightly the happier today. As Pakistan chose to bat first, it was once again Makhaya Ntini who would do the damage. Shaun Pollock and Andre Nel were rested, but Ntini, who must be running on fumes by now, was kept in the side.
However exhausted he may be, it certainly didn't stop him with the ball today. Mohammad Hafeez was his first victim, nicking to slip and Yasir Hameed soon followed in a similar fashion. We also saw an impressive showing with the ball from Jacques Kallis. Utilised as a first change bowler, he followed up Ntini with a double strike of his own. Imran Farhat and Younis Khan were both caught in the slips, the latter spectacularly by AB De Villiers.
With Inzamam soon gone to a peach of an outswinger from Andrew Hall, it was once again Mohammad Yousuf who was needed by Pakistan. Once Akmal had slashed into the slips, he realised runs were either coming quickly, or not at all. He unveiled the glorious strokeplay we came so accustomed to last year, perfectly timed cover drives and crisp pulls. He added 60 with Mohammad Sami in ten overs, with his partner contributing four from 22.
The tail was unable to give him the support he desired though. Kallis and Ntini returned to knock over the last four wickets for seven runs. Yousuf was last out for 83, a rare slog finding mid-off.
With the pitch helping the bowlers, South Africa's reply was never going to be a walk in the park, especially considering they would have to face Mohammad Asif on it. Sure enough, Asif proved a handful. Finding swing and seam, he took a wicket in each of his first two overs. Boeta Dippenaar, returning to open as De Villiers dropped down, was trapped lbw, and Hashim Amla caught behind.
Graeme Smith then decided to try a similar tactic to Yousuf earlier in the day. He took the attack to the Pakistanis with a 79-ball 64, punishing Shahid Nazir and Mohammad Sami, who didn't back up Asif as well as was required. Meanwhile, Jacques Kallis scored a more subdued 20, and together they took South Africa close to three figures.
Kallis eventually succumbed to a poor drive, while Inzamam Ul-Haq caught Smith in style, simply plucking his edge out the air. De Villiers and Prince opted to play for the close from here, and they all but made it. It was Danish Kaneria who broke the partnership with a crucial wicket. A googly beat an out of sorts De Villiers all ends up, and the day ended with nightwatchman Paul Harris partnering Prince.
South Africa will fancy themselves for a lead tomorrow, how much will largely depend on how well Prince and Boucher play. Whatever happens, we look set for another excellent contest.
Pakistan 156 all out
Mohammad Yousuf 83
Jacques Kallis 4-42, Makhaya Ntini 4-44
South Africa 131-5
Graeme Smith 64
Mohammad Asif 2-20Discuss this news item in the Cricket Web Forums