South Africa on brink of series win over Pakistan
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — South Africa’s fast bowlers took their team to the brink of another series win at home as Pakistan was bowled out for 294 right at the end of day three of the second test on Saturday, leaving the Proteas needing just 41 runs for victory.
South Africa’s batsmen will on Sunday almost certainly deliver a seventh straight series win on South African soil and the latest success for the Proteas following back-to-back wins against India and Australia a year ago. South Africa last lost at home to England in 2015-16.
South Africa already leads the three-test series against Pakistan 1-0.
The second test in Cape Town will go to a fourth day only after Pakistan’s best batting effort of the series frustrated South Africa and ended in chaotic, sometimes comical fashion.
Catches were dropped, the players had to be called back onto the field after a no-ball extended the Pakistan second innings, and Pakistan’s last three wickets ultimately added 73 runs to ensure everyone had to come back in the morning.
Pakistan was finally all out just after 6 p.m. local time, but the South Africans turned down the chance to extend the day by a half-hour to try and clinch victory.
They decided to wait for the calm of Sunday morning.
Asad Shafiq (88) and Shan Masood (61) began the fightback for Pakistan earlier with a partnership of 132 as the tourists faced a deficit of 254 when they started their second innings.
Babar Azam added 72 and the Pakistan tailenders clung on to the very end, eventually passing South Africa’s first-innings total to avoid an innings defeat in a small measure of pride for them.
Pakistan lost the first test inside three days and failed to get to 200 in any of its three innings in this series before Saturday.
Kagiso Rabada took 4-61 to lead South Africa’s four-man pace attack and Dale Steyn had 4-85, but Steyn encapsulated South Africa’s frustration at not getting the job done at the end — and missing out on a five-wicket haul — by throwing his arms up in the air angrily on numerous occasions as Pakistan’s tailenders kept narrowly surviving.
Steyn removed Imam-ul-Haq at the start of the Pakistan innings, broke the Masood-Shafiq partnership, and also collected the wickets of tailenders Mohammad Amir and Yasir Shah to take his match haul to seven wickets.
Rabada, the top-ranked test bowler in the world, knocked the stuffing out of the Pakistan middle order and finally ended the innings when last man Shaheen Afridi skied a catch to Vernon Philander at midwicket.
South Africa’s strong recent test record at home has been built on tough, fast-bowler friendly pitches that suit the South African attack and aggressive style of cricket but Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur complained the surfaces for the first two tests were “sub-standard” for batting and not good enough for test cricket.
The criticism has been rejected by the South African team.
Pakistan is not the first to struggle against South Africa’s pace-laden attack, with India and Australia both subdued by it last year.
South Africa’s tactics were clear for what will almost certainly be the series clincher at Newlands when the home team packed its lineup with four fast bowlers — two of them ranked in the top four in test cricket — and dropped spinner Keshav Maharaj.