Smith and de Villiers flatten Pakistan
South Africa 460 for 4 (Smith 227*, de Villiers 157*) lead Pakistan 99 (Babar 25*, Tahir 5-32, Steyn 3-38) by 361 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
After bundling out Pakistan for 99 on the first day of the second Test, South Africa served them a lesson on how to grind out an opposition with the bat on the second, as Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers put on a mammoth 326-run unbeaten partnership to close doors on any thoughts of a series win Misbah-ul-Haq might have had after the success in Abu Dhabi. Smith scored an almost chanceless double-century - his fifth - while de Villiers brought up his 17th hundred and with three days still to go, the two put South Africa in a dominant position with a lead of 361 runs.
It was Smith's first century - his fourth against Pakistan - on return from a five-month lay-off during which he underwent an ankle surgery. If there were any lingering doubts about his fitness or form, he dispelled them with nimble use of the feet against the spinners and assured strokeplay against the seamers. He reached the century-mark with a straight drive off Saeed Ajmal in the first session and strolled to his double in the third. The 200th run also made him only the 12th batsman - and second South African after Jacques Kallis - to have accumulated 9000 runs in Tests. By the end of the day, Smith had batted for more than six hours, a testament to his fitness in sapping conditions.
Smith briefly faced some problems against Irfan's steep bounce in the second session. He was smacked on the helmet off one such delivery that chased him as he was making room. But apart from that, his innings was largely unblemished.
In de Villiers, Smith had an ideal partner to complement his solidity with breathtaking strokeplay. The contrast was at its starkest during the second session when de Villiers tore into the bowling with a flurry of boundaries against the new ball, while Smith was happy in turning the strike over. But as de Villiers slowed down as he closed in on his century and then later, because of cramps, Smith brought out an array of aggressive strokes to thwart the bowlers. He had hit only six fours in his first hundred, but increased the number to 16 as he started playing horizontal bat shots to the seamers and lofted shots against spinners in the latter half of his innings. By the end of the day, Smith had added 158 runs to the partnership, neatly balancing the 157 added by de Villiers.
After a slow start to the day when 70 runs were scored in the first session, Pakistan leaked 262 runs in the next two. It was de Villiers who switched gears first, unfurling back-foot punches and front-foot drives against Irfan and the new ball, then he drilled Zulfiqar Babar to the straight boundary to bring up his half-century and 1000 Test runs against Pakistan. He kept up the attack on Irfan, hitting two more boundaries in his next over, and forcing Misbah to take his best bowler out of the attack after three overs with the new ball. Towards the end of the second session, he played an exquisite inside-out drive to go past his century. He curtailed his shots in the third session after being slowed down by a bout of cramps, but that didn't stop him from going past the 150-mark with relative ease.
Pakistan, though, were left to rue a few chances that came their way. De Villiers, facing his first delivery against Irfan, was lured into a loose drive by a full delivery that went across the batsman. He was slow to move closer to the line of the delivery and a thick outside edge flew low to the right of the wicketkeeper, but Adnan Akmal failed to hold on.
The second chance came late in the session when Saeed Ajmal's appeal for lbw against de Villiers, who was on 25, was turned down by the umpire Rod Tucker, who thought the ball had hit the bat before the pad. The replays showed the ball hit the pads first and would have gone on to strike the middle stump. However, Pakistan didn't have any reviews left after they had wasted them within five overs of the innings yesterday.
The reviews were replenished after the 80th over, but Pakistan's luck with them showed no improvement. De Villiers was given out lbw to a sharply turning delivery in the second over of the third session, only to be saved by the ball-tracker which showed the ball would have spun past the leg stump.
For Pakistan bowlers, the day didn't have as bad a start. Irfan removed Dale Steyn, the nightwatchman, early, reducing South Africa to 134 for 4. It could have been 134 for 5 had Akmal held on to the chance offered by de Villiers. From then on, the four frontline bowlers toiled hard all day without any rewards. By the end of the day, Ajmal and Babar had bowled 75 overs in the innings. Ajmal derived some useful turn from the pitch, but it was just that the batsmen were both in prime form.
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo