Pakistan 177 and 294 (Shafiq 88, Babar 72, Masood 61) lead South Africa 431 (du Plessis 103, Bavuma 75, de Kock 59) by 40 runs
On the fourth time of asking, Pakistan’s batsmen discovered the grit, resolve and aptitude required to compete with a pumped-up South African assault in their very own situations. However, regardless of a high quality century stand between Asad Shafiq and Shan Masood and a doughty 72 from Babar Azam, their opponents couldn’t be denied for ever, as their tempo quartet closed ranks within the night session to place a crushing victory past doubt.
By the shut, Pakistan had at the very least staved off the prospect of an innings defeat, with Babar’s hard-fought half-century offering the lower-order with spine as Dale Steyn particularly rolled again the years in a venomous short-pitched onslaught on any tailender who strayed into his sights. However, with a goal of 41 when play resumes tomorrow, a swift kill and a 2-Zero collection win is unquestionably a formality.
Actually, the match may but have been wrapped up this night, however for some farcical scenes within the closing overs of the day. With a lead of 25, and the prospect of an additional half-hour to gallop to the end, Vernon Philander seemed to have completed the innings when Mohammad Abbas slogged a size ball to mid-off. However with the gamers already sprinting from the sector – not least Quinton de Kock, who had clearly been primed to offer it some humpty as a pinch-hitter – replays confirmed that Philander had overstepped.
Again got here South Africa’s fielders – de Kock nonetheless pulling his gloves again on with a glance of distress on his face – whereupon Shaheen Afridi served up one other over of mayhem, mowing 12 very important runs off Steyn, together with a top-edged 4, a straight six, a dropped catch and a thump on the helmet. By the point his enjoyable was finally ended to offer Kagiso Rabada his fourth wicket of the innings, the second had handed, and de Kock determined 20-minute timeframe during which to slap his aspect to victory was too tight an ask, and the umpires stated that was that.
The scenes in these closing overs epitomised an engrossing day’s play, and one during which Pakistan really made a lot of the working. This got here principally by way of Shafiq and Masood’s enterprising third-wicket stand of 132 – their group’s first three-figure partnership of the collection – and so properly did they play that, for so long as it lasted, a Headingley or Kolkata-style miracle couldn’t be totally dominated out. That is Pakistan in any case, the group that’s by no means extra harmful than when it has been fully written off.
And that was just about the state of affairs when Shafiq and Masood got here collectively at 27 for two within the 11th over of Pakistan’s second innings, following the dismissal of Azhar Ali to a shooter from Rabada that pinned him plumb on the entrance pad for six. Within the first hour of the morning, South Africa’s tail had biffed a fast 49 runs to take their result in a frightening 254, and that certainly appeared sufficient to see off a aspect that had not handed 200 in any of its earlier three innings of the collection.
However Masood and Shafiq had different concepts. Masood had been promoted to open instead of the misfiring Fakhar Zaman after making a sexy 44 within the first innings, and responded with one other unruffled efficiency that was at odds with the skittish efforts round him. But it surely was Shafiq’s injection of intent after the lunch break that turned Pakistan’s innings from one in all dour survival to one thing approaching a real counterattack.
Shafiq needed to trip his luck early on, with each Philander and Duanne Olivier discovering awkward raise from a very good size to threaten his gloves and ribs. However, having laced a brace of enterprising cuts for 4 by way of backward level, his innings went into overdrive after taking up one other Olivier bouncer, and top-edging a six over high quality leg.
All of a sudden, all quick balls have been being handled as a chance for runs, and with South Africa sustaining their attacking fields with a giant deficit nonetheless to be written off, there have been loads of gaps to be exploited. On the shut of the second day, Mickey Arthur had made some damning comments about the state of the pitches for this collection, however Shafiq’s shift in mindset appeared greater than sufficient to transcend the obvious demons, as he rattled by way of to a 56-ball half-century.
On the different finish, Masood grew in stature because the partnership progressed. He had the closest shave of the innings when, on 24, he efficiently overturned an lbw resolution that was proven to be lacking leg, however apart from his defensive purity, it was the standard of his strokeplay that stood out, particularly a laced drive by way of long-off that was little greater than a push.
His fifty got here up from 98 balls with a flick for 4 off the pads in opposition to Steyn, and he had simply handed 100 runs for the match when Steyn extracted his revenge, discovering an ideal size exterior off to attract a deadly nibble.
Enter Babar, who lived dangerously within the opening moments of his innings, edging low by way of the slips to get off the mark earlier than carrying a nasty lifter on the physique from Rabada two balls later. However he drilled the ultimate two balls of the session for 4 to log out in type, and ship a sign to South Africa that there’d be lots extra exhausting yakka to return within the night session.
And so it proved, though maybe not within the method anticipated. Shafiq continued to tackle the quick ball with aplomb to maneuver to inside touching distance of a genuinely-earned century, when the persevering Philander induced a deadly nibble within the channel exterior off, to ship him on his approach for 88, and depart Pakistan’s innings within the steadiness as soon as once more at 194 for four.
Fakhar, making his belated look at No. 6, was in no temper to revive that steadiness. His grim tour continued when he made an utter hash of a cross-batted mow at Rabada, who ran again in his followthrough to finish a steepling catch, and when the skipper Sarfraz Ahmed was finished in by Olivier – his lbw adjudged to be clipping the bails by roughly the identical margin that Temba Bavuma’s had been lacking within the first innings – Pakistan have been 220 for six and freefalling.
South Africa noticed their opening, and went for it, with Mohammad Amir subjected to fearful peppering – first from Olivier, who slammed him on the gloves two balls in a row, after which Steyn, who ripped a bouncer by way of his defences for de Kock to wrap up a savage 15-ball duck. The identical method quickly did for Yasir Shah too, the substitute Zubayr Hamza making a troublesome likelihood look straightforward at an old-school long-stop place on the boundary, however not earlier than Babar had taken the assault again to his opponents, motoring to his half-century with 4 fours in an over off Olivier.
He didn’t maintain again after that, both. One other top-edge for 4 took Pakistan into the lead, and he managed 4 extra boundaries – all full-blooded, not all middled – earlier than chancing his arm as soon as too usually to offer Rabada one other breakthrough. From then on it was merely a race in opposition to time for South Africa to earn themselves an additional day on the golf course. Afridi’s defiance ensured one final ethical victory for Pakistan on a day when their collection defeat was all however sealed.