SA close in on Karachi victory

A counterattacking 99-ball 93 from Younis Khan kept Pakistan alive on day four of the first Test, but they still face an uphill challenge to avoid defeat to South Africa in Karachi.

After South Africa declared at tea, 423 ahead, Pakistan’s opening woes continued when both openers fell to Dale Steyn’s pace for single figures. Mohammad Hafeez dragged on cutting, before Salman Butt was brilliantly caught by a crouching Hashim Amla at short leg.

At 20-2, Pakistan could have easily melted once more against the left-arm spin of Paul Harris, but Younis and Faisal Iqbal bit back by wrestling the momentum from the South Africans through a mixture of aggressive strokeplay and pure class, particularly from Younis. Exhibiting his wristy, subcontinental array of drives and punches, Younis took apart the South African seamers, especially an off-colour Makhaya Ntini. Despite Harris maintaining control from one end, the lack of a second Proteas’ spinner soon became evident when Graeme Smith’s part-time off-spin leaked 20 from just two overs, including consecutive reverse-swept boundaries from Younis. Faisal Iqbal’s 44 provided useful support, but his demise four overs from the close – caught at slip off Harris – brought the game firmly back into South Africa’s grip. Pakistan still require a further 278 to win on a dusty, wearing surface, after closing on 148-3.

Earlier, South Africa had meandered to a 264-7 declared, their innings again built around a solid Jacques Kallis century. Resuming on their overnight score of 76-3, Kallis and Ashwell Prince built a secure lead early on, ensuring there would be no repeat of the first innings collapse to the spinners. Although Prince fell midway through the session and was soon followed by AB de Villiers – the former to Danish Kaneria, the latter to Abdur Rehman, both bowled, the lower order plugged the hole, allowing Kallis to engineer a potentially match-winning hundred.

A sixth wicket stand with Mark Boucher, who made 29, yielded 54 runs, but just as Pakistan sensed a chance to run through the tail, Andre Nel produced a Test career-best 33 to enable Kallis to plod towards his second century of the match. That done – Kallis finished unbeaten on exactly 100 from 201 deliveries, with just four boundaries and one six – Smith promptly declared and should be more than satisfied by the three crucial blows dealt before the close. The key for Pakistan, however, rests with Younis: should be bat for more than a session-and-a-half tomorrow, South Africa will have a match on their hands.

South Africa 450 and 264-7 declared (89)
Jacques Kallis 100
Abdur Rehman 4-105, Danish Kaneria 3-85

Pakistan 291 and 146-3 (33)
Younis Khan 93*, Faisal Iqbal 44

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