STUMPS: Yasir Shah and Nauman Ali strike telling blows for Pakistan late on the third day
By Stuart Hess 38m ago
Share this article:
JOHANNESBURG – Pakistan’s spinners Yasir Shah and Nauman Ali struck a few hammer blows at the end of the third day, as Pakistan reclaimed control of the first Test on Thursday.
After Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen had battled extremely hard for over three hours in a partnership of 127 runs for the second wicket, the spin duo picked up three wickets in the last half an hour, to reduce to 187/4, a lead of just 29 runs.
It was a stunning and possibly match defining period for the hosts. Until Van der Dussen’s dismissal South Africa had shown the kind of application and grit needed to thrive on a pitch that until the last half an hour was still reasonably good for batting.
Pakistan had taken a 158 run first innings lead in the morning. Kagiso Rabada became the eighth South African bowling to reach 200 Test wickets with the dismissal of Hasan Ali, in what was another poor session with the ball for the Proteas.
Dean Elgar, copped a barrage from Shaheen Afridi after lunch. Elgar was hit on the left hand by a delivery that reared off a good length. He required treatment from the South African physio, Criag Govender, which included an ice pack to the damaged area – in the region of the knuckle above his little finger – and was administered cold spray. Fortunately, X-Rays taken subsequently, showed no signs of a fracture.
However the blow was clearly playing on his mind – one shot struck through point for four saw Elgar wincing in pain and on another occasion, he turned his back on a short ball, fortuitously hitting into the covers.
At the start of the subsequent over from Yasir Shah, Elgar tried to sweep out of the rough, but top edged the ball with Pakistan’s wicketkeeper, Mohammad Rizwan taking a good catch diving from behind the stumps. Elgar made 29, that included four boundaries.
That was to be Pakistan’s last wicket for nearly 50 overs as Van der Dussen and Markram showed expert caution against the spinners, and the reverse swinging ball. Both were deliberate in getting forward to smother the spin and for a period midway through the afternoon session, the scoring virtually stopped.
But by absorbing that pressure – or earning the right as Elgar called it at the end of the first day – the pair were able to take advantage later when Pakistan’s bowlers, produced a few loose deliveries.
For Markram, who has struggled in the sub-continent, it was a crucial innings – one in which he chose to grind over style, indicating he is capable of playing long innings where he doesn’t need to score all the time.
Van der Dussen too, showed he had the technique to play in that part of the world. However there were lessons for both late on as Pakistan surged back.
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) January 28, 2021
Van der Dussen who spent 205 minutes at the crease, made 64, but the technique which served him well – getting his bat out in front of his pad – also led to his downfall with Yasir bowling one slightly slower that Van der Dussen pushed to Abid Ali at silly mid off.
Faf du Plessis lost another battle with Yasir – he was dropped by Babar Azam at slip off searing leg break – but a few balls later was deceived by a ‘slider’ and played back when he should have been forward and was trapped lbw for 10.
Markram fell to Nauman, again the technique that had worked well, was beaten by a fine bit of bowling from the left arm spinner, the ball bouncing slight more off a length, catching the shoulder of the right hand opener’s bat with Abid completing the catch at silly mid-off. Markram scored 74, in 224 minutes, hitting 10 fours.
Quinton de Kock on nought and Keshav Maharaj on 2, will resume for the Proteas on Friday morning.