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South Africa Within Touching Distance of Victory Despite Wagging Pakistan Tail

Cricketnext Staff |January 6, 2019, 9:06 AM IST
South Africa Within Touching Distance of Victory Despite Wagging Pakistan Tail

Pakistan were left teetering on the brink of a defeat at the end of third day’s play in Newlands, Cape Town in the second Test against South Africa, as they were all-out for 294 on the last ball of the day. South Africa did not bat again, and will begin their run-chase of 41 afresh on the morning of the fourth day.

Pakistan were struck early blows by Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada in the first session after they started their innings 254 runs behind South Africa’s first innings total of 431. The former had Imam-ul-Haq in trouble early on, and dismissed him for six runs as he was caught at third slip in the fourth over. The latter had Azhar Ali’s number with the very first ball he bowled, trapping him leg before wicket as the ball kept low.

It was then Shan Masood and Asad Shafiq’s turn to lead a mini-fightback from Pakistan, as the two batsmen played some positive cricket to keep the scoreboard ticking. In the second session, the pair put on 140 runs for the third wicket, with Masood taking charge of the situation as Shafiq played the role of sheet anchor.

The two batsmen looked set to continue their partnership beyond tea, when Masood was caught behind off the bowling of Dale Steyn to give South Africa a crucial breakthrough.

Joining Shafiq in the middle, it was Babar Azam’s turn to come and assess the situation. The pair of Azam and Shafiq showed some steely resolve in the face of some quick, short bowling by South Africa. But it wasn’t long before Shafiq was dismissed as well, just 12 runs short of what would have been a memorable century. He edged a ball off the bowling of Vernon Philander and South Africa gained confidence, still in possession of a healthy lead.

From this point, South Africa were the dominant team till the end of the day. Fakhar Zaman, who had struggled in the series as an opener and was hence sent at number six did not last long at the crease once again. After eight balls and seven runs, he was caught and bowled off the bowling of Kagiso Rabada.

Captain Sarfraz Ahmed did try to come in and hold fort, playing extremely cautiously. But after 24 balls, he too was trapped in front of the stumps for a score of six by Duanne Olivier, as Azam struggled for partners around him. Mohammad Amir was dismissed for a duck soon after as Steyn picked up his third wicket of the innings.

With South Africa in possession of a lead in excess of thirty runs at this point, the threat of an innings defeat was looming large for Pakistan. But Azam was determined to ensure that South Africa batted again, as he kept playing his shots and even hit three successive boundaries in an over at one point.

However, Azam’s approach did not rub off on the batsmen around him, as Yasir Shah was soon dismissed after getting the short treatment from Steyn once again. At 247 for eight, Mohammad Abbas walked in and put up a short partnership of 33 runs with Azam, which ensured that Pakistan took the lead and would make South Africa bat once more in the match.

Azam looked determined to bat throughout the day, when with the score on 270, he finally perished off the bowling of Kagiso Rabada, being caught by Hashim Amla for 72.

With just one wicket left, South Africa were in a hurry to wrap up proceedings. And it looked like Pakistan was all-out when Mohammad Abbas skied a Vernon Philander ball and was caught, with the South African players rushing into the dressing room to resume their innings early.

However, what looked like a mere formality in checking for a no-ball actually proved to be of great consequence, as Philander was indeed found to have overstepped the crease, giving Abbas a reprieve.

Courtesy a few lusty blows by Shaheen Afridi at the other end, Pakistan added to South Africa’s frustrations. With the lead now at 40, Afridi opened his arms once again in an attempt to find the fence, but was caught by Philander off Rabada’s bowling – this time off a legitimate delivery – and Pakistan was all-out for 294.

There was discussion in the field among the umpires regarding the possibility of South Africa coming out to bat on day 3 itself, with the eventual decision being there was too little time left for play even after an extension to resume play.

South Africa will begin the fourth innings of the game when they come out to bat on the morning of the fourth day.

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Cricket World Cup Points Table

9 7 1 1 15 +0.80
9 7 2 0 14 +0.86
9 6 3 0 12 +1.15
9 5 3 1 11 +0.17
9 5 3 1 11 -0.43
9 3 4 2 8 -0.91
9 3 5 1 7 -0.03
9 3 5 1 7 -0.41
9 2 6 1 5 -0.22
9 0 9 0 0 -1.32

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6420 123
2 India 6807 122
3 New Zealand 4763 113
4 Australia 5470 112
5 South Africa 5193 110
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
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