Pressure on Amla, Du Plessis to put Proteas back on track

2013-02-15 15:58

Pakistan: 338 all out (Asad Shafiq 111, Younus Khan 111, Tanvir Ahmed 44, Philander 5/59, Morkel 2/29, Robin Peterson 2/94)

South Africa: 65/2 (Smith 19, Amla 17*, Saeed Ajmal 2/20)

South Africa trails by 273 runs

Saeed Ajmal’s two wickets made South Africa’s task of overhauling Pakistan’s total on day two of the Test that much harder.

Wheeling away from the Kelvin Grove end, the offspinner claimed both openers. He first ticked off Graeme Smith, even though there the Decision Review System was needed to overturn Steve Davis’ original not-out verdict.

With the naked eye, it looked like Smith had got outside of the line of the ball but the ball tracking system showed otherwise.

In his 100th test as South African test captain, it was a rather unbefitting and scratchy knock from Smith and the dismissal was as ugly as the sweep shot he was attempting.

Alviro Petersen had taken a stunner of a catch in the Pakistan innings but he received a dose of his medicine when Azhar Ali took a superb reflex catch at short leg. The ball came off a thick inside edge and even though the pad slowed the ball’s pace considerably, it was still an excellent catch by Pakistan’s number three.

Ali had copped a painful blow to the knee from Petersen earlier on and in some way, cricket had dished out some retribution.

Pakistan, perhaps mindful of how Younus Khan and Asad Shafiq dominated the South African attack once the ball lost its shine, were far cannier operators when the ball did not move.

Tanvir Ahmed was the perfect example of the metronome, keeping a gun-barrel straight line outside offstump without conceding runs. This allowed Ajmal to bowl with the utmost impunity and a freedom to attack the bowling from one end.

Besides the first session of the first test, where the openers were kept quiet, it was the first time since the tour of Australia where the Proteas’ middle order was put under pressure. With a fifth test match win in succession on the line, it is a test the Proteas need to undergo.

Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis, who saw out the session without any further hassles, have the responsibility of putting the Proteas back on track.

With Jacques Kallis dropping down the order due to bowling more than his allotment of overs, an opportunity beckons for Pakistan to make further inroads. However, the game was at a similar junction when Younus/Shafiq alliance saved Pakistan.

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