If day one of the first Test in Johannesburg had just about belonged to Pakistan then day two emphatically belonged to the home side. Dale Steyn led the South African attack, ending with the remarkable figures of six for eight, as Pakistan were bowled out for just 49 - the lowest ever Test total in their 50-year history.
Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers then ensured that South Africa didn’t succumb to a second innings collapse, which had briefly threatened as they lost three wickets for 17 runs, and added an unbroken 108 for the fourth-wicket, taking the home side’s lead past 400 in the process.
Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal had provided Pakistan with some cause for optimism as Gul ended Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen’s opening stand at 82 by having the former caught at cover from a loose stroke. Smith followed in his next over for a well made 52 off only 73 balls, with Ajmal benefiting from an uncharacteristically careless shot by Kallis. That made it 99 for three but, by stumps, it had become 207 for three thanks to Amla and de Villiers, who both passed 50.
However, the day’s, and probably the Test’s, defining moment had occurred in the morning. Resuming on six for none in their first innings, Pakistan lost all 10 wickets for 40 runs as they were bowled out for 49. Dale Steyn started the procession by inviting a nervous prod from Mohammad Hafeez and ended it by having Rahat Ali caught in the gully, backing away to a short delivery. In between, he would take four more wickets and end with figures of 8.1-6-8-6.
Steyn provided the ultimate masterclass in fast swing bowling, repeatedly swerving the ball away from the right-hander or cannoning the ball into the pads of the left-hander. Nasir Jamshed fell for two as a victim of the latter mode of dismissal, while Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Sarfraz Ahmed and Saeed Ajmal were all victims of the former.
The spells from Vernon Philander, Jacques Kallis and Morne Morkel must also be mentioned, despite being overshadowed by Steyn’s 20th five-wicket haul. Philander’s two wickets came courtesy of poor shots from Asad Shafiq and Umar Gul, but it would be foolish to overlook the role he played in Steyn’s success; maintaining his usual immaculate line and length and allowing the Pakistan batsmen no respite.
Kallis, meanwhile, broke the one partnership of the day that caused South Africa even the slightest of problems. Azhar Ali and Misbah-ul-Haq had resisted for almost 13 overs for the addition of only 24 runs, but Kallis dispensed with both. Both men received short balls and fended them through to AB de Villiers, with Misbah’s dismissal almost serving as a reprieve as he had already been struck multiple times on the hands and body by Kallis and Morne Morkel.
All in all, it was a day when all four of the best pace attack in world cricket bowled at their best in helpful conditions. Whatever the criticism that may come the way of Pakistan’s batsmen in the coming hours and days, it is hard to see how any batting line-up - including South Africa’s - would have fared much better.
© Cricket World 2013
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