Proteas remain in the hunt

There is nothing brittle about their batting anymore. Unfortunately though, it has come at the fag end of a tour. Pakistan, first, led by a dogged tail marshaled by all-rounder Abdur Rehman, and then, an equally stoic bowling by Rehman, dented South Africa’s victory charge.

By James Jose

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Published: Tue 23 Nov 2010, 11:30 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 2:50 AM

The Proteas still have the second Test in their grasp but it is slowly slipping away going into the final day at the Shaikh Zayed International Cricket Stadium on the morrow.

At stumps on day four on Tuesday, South Africa were 173 for four, in effect, 323 runs ahead, after taking a handy 150-run lead into their second dig.

After bowling out Pakistan for 434, South Africa went for the leather to set a competitive target and were on track with openers Alviro Petersen and Hashim Amla forcing the pace. But once they departed and AB de Villiers and Kallis were back, South Africa had to resort to Plan B and played out the day.

It depends on when South Africa will declare on the morrow but whether Pakistan will take the bait is unlikely as a draw would be as good as a win for them.

Rehman, who scored his maiden half-century to help Pakistan avert the follow-on and then took three wickets with his left-arm spin, said: “Thanks to God, it was a good day. It was important for the team that I perform today. Hopefully, we will finish well tomorrow. I just wanted to stay at the crease.”

Meanwhile, South African quick Dale Steyn said: “We are confident that Pakistan are due for a collapse. We have pretty much done everything that we wanted apart from wickets coming. Hopefully, the bowlers can recover quickly enough tomorrow and take 10 wickets.”

About the declaration, Steyn said: Nothing has been decided as yet. We will go back, sit down and decide. We have won the Twenty20 and ODI series. So, it would be fantastic to win the series and go back home.”

Earlier, Pakistan, resuming on 317 for six and still needing 68 to avoid the follow-on, lost their captain Misbah-ul-Haq to the first ball of the day. Misbah pushed forward to the delivery and was hit on the back pad.

New batsman Gul picked an unconvincing boundary off the last ball when he tried to whip Steyn but got a leading edge which flew over the slip cordon.

But there was more confidence next time around though when he drove Steyn through covers for a boundary. Gul and Rehman went about with purpose and intent to avoid the follow-on. Rehman too had an edge go over the slips for a boundary off Morne Morkel, before Gul punched Steyn through extra cover.

South Africa thought they had Rehman when they appealed for a caught behind but the ball missed the gloves and flicked the shirt on its way to the wicketkeeper Mark Boucher and umpire Asoka de Silva was right with his decision.

Gul too survived an appeal in the next over when Harris appealed for a leg before by umpire Daryl Harper reckoned it was going down leg.

Gul then drove Harris past mid-wicket for a boundary before Harris had the last laugh, though Gul may have been a touch unlucky.

Gul tried to sweep the left-arm spinner but missed and was adjudged leg before, although replays showed the ball had flicked his gloves before hitting the pad. Gul made 21 from 36 balls with four boundaries and Pakistan still needed 32 to avoid the follow-on, with two wickets in hand. The duo had put on 36 for the eighth wicket.

Rehman grew in confidence, driving Kallis on the up, through covers for a boundary. Later, he guided Kallis through slip and gully for a boundary.

Debutant Tanvir Ahmed then clubbed three boundaries in an over off Kallis.

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