Pakistan’s bowling infantry took four South African top-order wickets on the cheap to leave the Proteas tottering on 72 for four at the end of day three of the first Test in Abu Dhabi Wednesday.
South Africa, who are the top dogs in the ICC Test rankings, require another 121 runs to stave off an innings defeat at the hands of a Pakistan team who are coming off a humiliating Test defeat at the hands minnows Zimbabwe recently.
Mohammab Irfan initiated the Proteas’ wreckage by scalping Alviro Petersen in the eleventh over of the second innings, before Ajmal got Proteas skipper Graeme Smith stumped for 32 a few overs later to expose the fragile South African middle-order to a spewing Pakistan bowling sensing victory.
Smith’s victory gave off-spinner Ajmal his 150th Test victim in 29 Test matches, making him the joint fourth fastest to reach the milestone.
Veteran Jacques Kallis departed an over later for a duck to leave the South Africans reeling at 58 for three. And, if the Pakistan ascendancy was not still not on the cards, debutante Zulfiqur Babar got the prized wicket of first innings-centurion Hashim Amla in the last over of the day to lay foundations of a victory saccharine-procession tomorrow when play resumes tomorrow.
Earlier in the day, skipper Misbah-ul-Haq ensured Pakistan suffered no hiccups in extending his team’s lead over South Africa. His rearguard ton, his first in 16 Tests, made him the oldest Pakistan batsman to score a century in Test cricket.
Giving his captain good support was Khurram Manzoor, with their partnership yielding a constructive 112 runs. Khurram’s 388-minute stoic century of 141 was Pakistan’s highest Test innings on debut.
A late flourish from the South African bowlers meant that Pakistan’s lead was restricted to 193 runs before South Africa took guard to display a back-to-the-wall batting performance to salvage their dismal first-innings batting performance.