A spirited fifth-wicket stand from Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq ensured that the first Test between Pakistan and South Africa will head into a fourth day. Both Misbah and Shafiq benefited from reprieves to end on 44 and 53 respectively, taking their unbroken partnership to 101 in the process.
AB de Villiers had earlier completed his 15th Test hundred as South Africa declared their second innings on 275 for three, setting Pakistan an unlikely 480 to win. De Villiers took just 33 balls to move from his overnight 63 to his final 103, while Amla ended on 74. Overall, South Africa added 68 runs in nine overs before Graeme Smith declared with perhaps an eye on the weather forecast, which promises rain for the final two days.
Pakistan first had to survive the remaining 75 overs on day three and, for a while, it looked like they wouldn’t despite the pitch looking flatter than it has done in the Test so far. Mohammad Hafeez fell in Vernon Philander’s second over, walking after edging a ball down the leg-side to de Villiers. A partnership of 57 between Nasir Jamshed and Azhar Ali then followed, straddling the break for lunch, to ensure that there would be no repeat of the first innings capitulation. However, Jamshed pulled a ball to Robin Peterson at mid-on to precipitate a mini-collapse of three for 18.
Azhar Ali’s turgid innings was ended at 18 from his 68th delivery as failed to lay a bat on a full straight delivery from Jacques Kallis and was trapped on the crease LBW. Younis Khan then got the slightest feather on a ball from Morne Morkel after trying to withdraw his bat at the last moment and suddenly it was 82 for four with more than 45 overs left in the day. South Africa sensed the kill.
Shafiq and Misbah, though, stayed together and saw tea come and go, remaining together - just - until the close. Shafiq was caught behind off Morkel in the 62nd over, only to be recalled by the third umpire after it was found that the no-ball-prone Morkel had overstepped. Misbah received his reprieve in the next over when, after driving loosely at a full ball from Jacques Kallis, he was dropped at point by Robin Peterson. Misbah would endure another tense moment just before the end as he miscued a hook shot, only to see it fall agonisingly short of Dean Elgar rushing in from the square-leg boundary.
With showers forecast for the final two days, Shafiq and Misbah have provided Pakistan with the faintest of chances of pulling off one of the great cricketing escapes.
© Cricket World 2013
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