South Africa remain in driver's seat despite Pakistan's late fightback



South Africa are seven wickets away from a clean sweep © Getty

Quinton de Kock cracked an impressive 129, while the pacers chipped in with wickets at regular intervals to ensure South Africa maintained a firm hold on the third Test against Pakistan at the Wanderers. The visitors, however, fought back admirably in the final session to end the third day at 153 for 3, still needing 228 for a memorable win.

While chasing down a massive target on a track that was showing signs of variable bounce, Pakistan needed a solid start. The duo of Shan Masood and Imam-ul-Haq provided just the start the visitors would have hoped for, by stitching a stand of 67. Imam, in particular, looked in fine touch, cracking an array of drives. Masood, meanwhile, used to pull and flick to good effect.

At that stage, Dale Steyn troubled the southpaw batsmen and reaped the rewards with the scalps of both openers. Imam was caught behind to a delivery that straightened after pitching. On the other hand, Steyn went round the wicket to create a nice inward angle to force Masood to edge one behind.

Initially, not given by the on field umpire but the UltraEdge showed a spyke and the decision was overturned. Masood didn’t seem too pleased with the decision, but had to walk away. Duanne Olivier, South Africa’s in form bowler, followed it up by producing a vicious short delivery that reared up to dismiss Azhar Ali.

With Pakistan in a spot of bother, Asad Shafiq (48*) joined forces with Babar Azam to resurrect the innings. Shafiq played with flourish, capsulised by the eight fours he has collected so far in his innings. Babar, his batting partner, offered him good support. However, for Pakistan to mount a serious challenge, the visitors need arguably their two most skillful batsmen to compile big scores.

South Africa were able to build a huge lead due to the efforts of de Kock and Hashim Amla (77). In the morning session, Amla and de Kock were able to negate the early threat of Pakistan’s pacers. After reaching their respective fifties, the duo also played the occasional cover drive as runs started to flow.

Just when Amla looked set to compose his first Test hundred in close to two years, Hasan Ali hit one of the cracks to force the veteran to edge one behind. After the Lunch break, de Kock looked to take the aggressive route. He was helped by the fact that Mohammad Abbas bowled a string of half volleys in his first over after the break as de Kock collected three fours. In the 68th over, de Kock gave a glimpse of his class by threading the gap through point for yet another boundary.

By then, de Kock was into nervous nineties. He had a scare when there was a mix up with Kagiso Rabada, his batting partner. However, he soon bisected the gap through mid off with perfection to reach his hundred. He celebrated his milestone with a fist pump and a loud roar.

With the lead swelling past 350, the duo also upped the ante. Shadab finally dismissed de Kock but by then he had already inflicted the damage. Shadab and Faheem Ashraf ran through the rest of the lower order quite quickly as South Africa were bowled out for 303.

Brief scores: South Africa 262 and 303 (Quinton de Kock 129, Hashim Amla 71; Faheem Ashraf 3-42) lead Pakistan 185 and 153/3 (Asad Shafiq 48*; Dale Steyn 2-37) by 227 runs.

© Cricbuzz


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