South Africa Dominate Despite Ball-Tampering Penalty
Pakistan 99 & 132-4 (Misbah-ul-Haq 42no) v
South Africa 517 (Smith 234, de Villiers 164)
Second Test, Abu Dhabi, day three
South Africa enjoyed the better of day three of the second Test against Pakistan in Dubai but were docked five runs for ball tampering.
The incident which threatens to overshadow a dominant performance from the Proteas happened when umpires Rod Tucker and Ian Gould deemed that Faf du Plessis had deliberately rubbed the ball against the zip of his trousers in an attempt to change its condition.
As they had seen the incident, they were able under new ICC regulations to change the ball immediately and award Pakistan five penalty runs. Du Plessis will also be reported.
Those runs helped them close the day on 132 for four, still well behind as although they rallied to dismiss South Africa for 517, they need to reach 418 simply to make South Africa bat again.
South Africa resumed on 460 for four but any thoughts of world records tumbling quickly disappeared as Graeme Smith was caught by Younus Khan off Saeed Ajmal for 234.
De Villiers (164) had already departed, caught by Adnan Akmal off Mohammad Irfan, ending a 338-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Smith.
Smith faced 388 balls in all, hitting 16 fours while de Villiers faced 274, cracking 17 fours and a six.
This was the 44th time that Smith had shared in a century partnership and while the 338 falls just short of the top 30 Test partnerships of all time, it makes it onto South Africa's list at seventh, equal with an effort by Smith and Herschelle Gibbs against England at Edgbaston in 2003.
It is, however, the highest fifth-wicket partnership for South Africa and the highest partnership for a wicket other than first, second or third. It is an odd quirk, perhaps, that the highest fourth-wicket partnership for the Proteas is a 'mere' 249 although had Smith and de Villiers been in their usual batting positions (Dale Steyn had been employed as a nightwatchman on day one), this would have been a fourth-wicket stand.
After that huge stand was broken, JP Duminy (7), Vernon Phlander (8), Morne Morkel (7) and Imran Tahir (2) offered little resistance as Pakistan wrapped up the rest of the innings in 29.5 overs having struggled desperately on day two.
Ajmal returned six for 151, Irfan three for 102 and Zulfiqur Babar one for 124. So rigidly did they stick to their strategy of relying on their four specialist bowlers that of the 163 complete overs bowled, Azhar Ali bowled five and the others were delivered by Irfan (34.3 overs), Junaid Khan (31.3 overs), Ajmal (55.5) and Babar (36.2).
In what is becoming an increasingly noteworthy scorecard, it is unusual to see four bowlers in one innings end with incomplete overs as part of their analyses and perhaps rarer still (Pakistan at The Oval in 2006 being the only other occurence) to see five penalty runs for ball tampering added.
Batting again, Pakistan were quickly in disarray when openers Shan Masood and Khurram Khan both fell without scoring.
Masood was trapped in front by Steyn and Philander had Manzoor caught by Jacques Kallis to leave them on two for two.
They recovered partially through Azhar's 19 in 73 balls and Younis' 36 in 102 but they fell to Duminy and Tahir respectively to see Pakistan slip to 70 for four, the wickets falling either side of the ball-tampering incident.
Once again, Misbah looked like Pakistan's only (slim) hope of getting anything out of the game, as he made an unbeaten 42 in 78 balls with Asad Shafiq alongside him progressing to 28 in 71 deliveries.
They had added an unbroken 52 for the fifth wicket but it is startlingly obvious that they need to produce something of Smith-de Villiers proportions if Pakistan are to retain their 1-0 lead in the series.
Therefore, a South African win (and a drawn series) remains highly likely although what will probably soon be termed 'zipgate' may dominate the headlines for a little longer than the game itself - which would be a shame for Smith, de Villiers and their team-mates.
© Cricket World 2013