South Africa pick up seven wickets for the addition of just 127 runs on the second day
Tea South Africa 26 for 2 (Markram 10*, Hasan Ali 2-14) trail Pakistan 272 (Faheem 78*, Babar 77, Nortje 5-56, Maharaj 3-90) by 246 runs
Pakistan made early incisions into South Africa’s batting line-up when Hasan Ali dismissed Dean Elgar and Rassie van der Dussen in the last two deliveries before tea on an eventful second day in Rawalpindi.
South Africa’s openers, Elgar and Aiden Markram, were navigating the new ball relatively unscathed until Hasan’s third over. He could have had Elgar with the third ball when the edge flew through the slips, but he struck two balls later, with a faint nick that was caught behind. Hasan’s next ball kept low and castled van der Dussen as the batsman got down to his haunches in an attempt to keep it out.
The double-strike will make Pakistan feel better about being dismissed for 272 after Anrich Nortje claimed the third five-for of his Test career and South Africa took seven wickets for 127 runs on the day to underline a determined effort. Pakistan’s total was bolstered by Faheem Ashraf, who marshalled the lower order and threatened a repeat of Karachi, where Pakistan’s last four wickets put on 202 in the first dig. Here, the last five wickets managed 123, leaving South Africa with much to be satisfied with after their attack was reduced by one.
George Linde, the second specialist spinner, bowled just 5.5 overs after suffering a laceration to the little finger of his bowling hand on the first day, when he was in his third over. He returned on the second day to deliver three overs but played only a bit-part role. Instead, South Africa relied heavily on Keshav Maharaj, who sent down 45 overs, and Nortje, who used his pace and the short ball to good effect to emulate Dale Steyn, who also took his third career five-for in Pakistan.
Earlier, Nortje made the first breakthrough when he had Babar Azam caught at second slip with the second ball of the day. Azam looked to cut a length ball but got a thick outside edge and Faf du Plessis took the chance at head height. This was the second time Azam had been dismissed without adding to his overnight score in Rawalpindi – he was on 143 against Bangladesh last February when the same thing had happened, and it was also the first time in three Test innings at this venue that the Pakistan captain had not scored a century.
But Azam was not the victim of the most spectacular piece of fielding in the morning session. That was the fate of Fawad Alam, who added three to his first-day 42 before being run-out at the non-striker’s end by a direct hit from Temba Bavuma. Fawad nudged a Kagiso Rabada delivery to the off side, where Bavuma swooped in from point, picked up and threw in one motion and beat Alam’s dive in a scene reminiscent of his run-out of David Warner in 2016. Alam could only nod his head in appreciation of Bavuma’s efforts and walk off.
South Africa would have hoped to get rid of Ashraf fairly soon after that and called for a review when he missed a paddle sweep against Maharaj on 15. Replays showed the ball would have missed off stump and Ashraf survived. He saw off the second new ball, even after Mohammad Rizwan was bounced out by a fired-up Nortje and Maharaj, given the ball when it was less than five overs old, had Hasan caught at slip.
Ashraf was confident on the drive and the pull and was particularly severe on Kagiso Rabada, taking 30 runs off 32 balls he faced from him. Rabada finished wicketless and appeared down on pace and Ashraf reached his fifty off him with a gorgeous drive down the ground. With Yasir Shah at the other end, Pakistan would have had 300-plus in their sights, especially after they got through the opening spells with the second new ball. But shah offered Wiaan Mulder a catch in his follow through, which he took low down, to open up the tail.
Nauman Ali’s defences appeared solid until Nortje turned up the chin music and aimed one at the grille. Nauman threw his hands up in defence and was caught at short leg. Two balls later, Shaheen Shah Afridi gloved a bumper to silly point to give Nortje his five-for and the South African openers an opportunity to bat before tea. With minutes to go, Elgar and van der Dussen were dismissed, leaving the match interestingly poised ahead of the final session.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent