They stand 7th in the latest ICC Test ranking with only West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe below them and are being led by a captain, who has been unable to bring the best of his charges and only looks the part in limited-overs cricket. Pakistan bowling attack failed to deliver on a wicket that had seen its own batting line-up yesterday capitulate to a fired up South African pace attack. Not good at all folkes
Only four wickets were claimed in three sessions today as captain Faf du Plessis, despite taking a number of blows of Pakistan pacemen, fought out a quality hundred, surely worth cherishing for the rest of his life. With a pair at Centurion and now his side wobbling a bit on 149-4, he was up for a challenge in scoring 103, in a stay six minutes short of six hours. Powered by ‘over-my-dead-body’ philosophy, a well-documented South African trademark he enjoyed every moment of the scrap in the middle, and every moment of the scrap in the middle, and has earned his side a match-winning 205-run first innings lead, at close on the 2nd day.
On day two, Pakistan paceman were able to bring their side back into the contest by sending back Hashim Amla and Theunis de Bruyn, within the first hour of play. Mohammad Abbas, bit off colour last evening, found his rhythm and produce a peach of a delivery to uproot Amla’s leg stump. With a bit of luck, they could have seen the back of Temba Bavuma too, when the batsman was on 3. He edged Abbas to Azhar Ali at first slip and the soft signal from Bruce Oxenford was out, only for the third umpire S. Ravi to overrule it, on the basis of doubt if the fielder had caught it clean. By lunch Bavuma in company with captain du Plessis (39 not out) had taken the total, past Pakistan’s first innings total of 177, with 11 runs ahead.
Faf du Plessis and Bavuma strengthened South Africa’s grip and put their side in total command, on the strength of skill and determination. They added 93 runs in the 28 overs bowled in the second session and Pakistan’s three-man pace attack plus Yasir Shah, still to find his feet, watched the game slip out of their team. To be fair captain Sarfraz did not have luxury of runs to allow Yasir a longer spell but could have managed him better. A match winner in the sub-continent conditions and also in England, Yasir finished the day with 0-79 off 21 overs.
With second new ball in their hands, taken just before tea, both Abbas and Amir were lively and made life difficult for both batsmen. But breakthrough remained elusive as South Africa lead crossed 100-run mark. The fifth-wicket stand had added 156 runs when finally Bavuma (75) was removed by Shaheen Afridi, who picked up three wickets for 112 but failed to contain runs and apply enough pressure. Even in the last 90 minutes, there was still no respite for Pakistan bowlers as Quinton de Kock played in his usual carefree limited-overs mode and remains unbeaten on 55 off 72 balls, with a view of inflicting more misery on the Pakistan bowlers on day 3.
South Africa - Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, Theunis de Bruyn, Faf du Plessis(c) , Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock(wk), Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Duanne Olivier
Pakistan - Imam ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed(c)(wk), Mohammad Amir, Yasir Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Abbas
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