Umar leads Pakistan's reply
Close Pakistan 275 for 4 (Umar 111, Kamal 49*) trail South Africa 320 by 45 runs
Taufeeq Umar: notched up his fourth Test century
Taufeeq Umar blended deft touches with careful defence to score his fourth Test hundred which helped Pakistan to finish the second day's play on a handy 275 for 4. South Africa were ragged in the morning, but were much sharper as the game went on, until they took the new ball and conceded some valuable runs. There was no blistering pace and quick-fire innings like yesterday, the day was all about nagging bowling and gritty batting.
Umar held sway for the majority of the day. He began shakily, but then profited from some shoddy bowling, driving anything full with a flourish. He then grew in confidence and put placement ahead of power, glancing and gliding to his fifty in an over in which he tore into Andre Nel. Then came the impressive part when with unerring concentration, he dug deep and entrenched.
The South African attack dried up the runs completely and frustrated the batsmen into false strokes. Imran Farhat (41) took the bait and began a spell of audacious stroke play, culminating in an ugly attempt to loft Paul Adams out of Lahore. But instead he lost his off-stump(109 or 1). Before this rush of blood, Farhat showed some brutal instinct with a touch of Caribbean class.
Umar, meanwhile, could have fallen in the first hour. Shaun Pollock was bowling faster than usual and had both the openers lunging uncertainly. He got one to lift off a good length and Umar inside-edged the ball, which then rolled back and hit the stumps, but the bails stayed on. Pollock had to wait until tea to get some reward for his accuracy, but he was easily the best bowler on show.
Umar then showed his driving force. Swinging the bat with gusto, he lapped up the half-volleys served up by Makhaya Ntini and battered Nel for 16 of one over. Then he impressed with some unerring concentration as the runs dried up, even though his partners fell. Yassir Hameed looked in total control on the benign pitch, but he was dismissed by the probing Pollock, slashing a wide one to Mark Boucher (151 for 2). Yousuf Youhana was uncharacteristically tentative and his torture was put to an end when he too edged to Boucher, off Nel (160 for 3).
Only 66 runs were added in the second session as the momentum shifted South Africa's way. Umar could not afford any lapses and he cut out all risky shots and nudged the singles without any fuss. He was well supported by Asim Kamal, the debutant, who survived a huge appleal for lbw first ball, but was willing to pitch tent even longer. Kamal left a majority of the balls alone, hit some straight to the fielders and put the crowd into a deep slumber, but that was what Pakistan needed.
Umar fell just before the second new ball was taken when he lazily drove straight back to Adams, who completed a great low catch (223 for 4). But he had battled through the tough period and ensured there was no collapse. Shoaib Malik joined Kamal and they made good use of the hard new ball, which raced off their bats to the boundary. At the close South Africa were jaded - illustrated by some clumsy fielding and poor bowling.
Pakistan are only 45 runs behind, but some quick wickets in the first hour tomorrow could see the lengthy tail exposed and the advantage surrendered, but the day belonged to Umar, who showed that the best way to counter nagging, disciplined bowling is by dogged disciplined batting.