May 2, 2003

Rafique steals the show

Rain washed out the morning session, and the rest of the day was a dampener. South Africa stumbled to 330 despite losing Shaun Pollock early, and Bangladesh had just begun their innings when it rained again. Mohammad Rafique was the star of the day, taking two wickets to finish with 6 for 77.

Bangladesh might have hoped for better after Pollock was out off the second ball of the day with the total on 264. But Robin Peterson played with composure to make 61 in his first Test innings, and took South Africa past 300 with a 36-run ninth-wicket partnership with Paul Adams.

There were cracks on the pitch - expected to aid the spinners - and the bounce and pace were uneven. Pollock (41) was done in by a Mashrafe Mortaza delivery that kept low and zipped in (264 for 7). Alan Dawson provided perfunctory resistance before being caught behind off Rafique for 10 (294 for 8).

Adams batted grittily and provided good support to Peterson, who played late and close to his body. He was technically immaculate against the fast bowlers, and though not all at ease against Rafique's left-arm spin, he negotiated it well.

Mohammad Ashraful, who had claimed the key wicket of Jacques Rudolph yesterday, got the breakthrough when a mistimed cut by Peterson was plucked up millimetres from the ground by Akram Khan (330 for 9). Peterson stood his ground, but the third umpire ruled it out.

Rafique beat Adams with extra turn in the next over to wrap things up, after which Bangladesh played out the three overs that were possible before the weather intervened. Tea was called early, and it was a long, long break. The weather did not clear up, and play did not resume.