Asif puts Pakistan in front

Pakistan are 183 runs away from leveling the three-Test series against the home side South Africa 1-1, having reached 8-0 at the end of Day 3 while chasing a moderate, but tricky, target of 191. On a gruesome day of Test cricket, where neither side looked to give in, Pakistan got the upper edge in the final session thanks to the bowling efforts of Mohammad Asif and Danish Kaneria, despite a final wicket stand of 41 in the Protean second innings.

The Pakistan openers, Mohammad Hafeez, and Imran Farhat, who was cleared earlier of an allegation of breaching the code of conduct on the first day by claiming a catch which TV replays showed bounced before reaching his hands, had six overs to battle out before the close of play, which they did with caution, especially after Hafeez was struck on the forearm, against a fiery South African pace bowling attack.

Earlier in the day, South Africa resumed at 115-3, looking to go into the lead, with Jacques Kallis going strong on the previous day. However, he lost his overnight partner Ashwell Prince within the first few overs, when he the left-hander was caught in front of the wickets off Kaneria of a ball that turned sharply into him, and found him in front of the wickets.

Kallis and Herschelle Gibbs steadied the innings thereafter, adding 78 for the fifth wicket, and taking South Africa into the lunch break without any further casualties. Pakistan looked to be losing their grip on the match at that time, but they came back strong picking up both the batsmen within a space of four overs, to Asif. Kallis fell, leg before wicket, nine short of what could have been his 25th Test century.

With the score at 205-6, the home did look in trouble, with the danger of Pakistan wrapping things up quick. But Mark Boucher and Shaun Pollock, two of the best batsmen one would like to have in the middle of a crisis, steadied the innings, taking the home side to 277-6 at the time of the tea break.

Just like after the lunch break, Pakistan bounced back after tea, this time picking up three wickets in quick succession, those of Pollock, Boucher and Paul Harris, two of them to Kaneria, while the other one to Asif. The last wicket partnership frustrated the Pakistan bowlers though, as Andre Nel and Makhaya Ntini hit five boundaries between the two, to take South Africa well pass 300, and thus setting a target, which despite looking gettable, could in the end prove to be just a bit difficult.

South Africa 124 and 331
Jacques Kallis 91, Mark Boucher 46
Mohammad Asif 5-76, Danish Kaneria 4-105

Pakistan 265 and 8-0

Pakistan require 183 runs more, with 10 second innings wickets in hand.

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Sudeep Popat