Pakistan v SA, 2nd Test, Dubai, 2nd day October 24, 2013

De Villiers' lucky escapes

Plays of the day for the fourth day of the second Test in Dubai

The chance
After Pakistan removed the nightwatchman fairly early, they had an opportunity to open South Africa up but missed it. AB de Villiers prodded at the first ball he faced from Mohammad Irfan - which jagged across him and took the outside edge - to present Adnan Akmal with a chance. The wicketkeeper had to dive full stretch to his right and he managed to get the tips of his gloves on to it but could not curl his fingers around the ball. It would have been a spectacular catch, but it went down as a tough chance and cost Pakistan dearly as de Villiers went on to score a hundred.

The overthrow
Having let de Villiers off, Pakistan were trying to apply some pressure but got it badly wrong. Saeed Ajmal gave him his first boundary when de Villiers drove the ball back to the spinner, who attempted to fling it back to the batsman. Instead of threatening de Villiers, Ajmal went wide of the wicketkeeper on the leg side and threw with such force, the result was four overthrows.

The regret
Yesterday's hasty use of technology came back to haunt Pakistan when Ajmal had an lbw shout against de Villiers in the 71st over. De Villiers was on 25 when he went on the back foot to play down the leg side and was struck on the pad. The appeal was turned down and replays showed the ball would have gone on to hit middle and leg but Pakistan could not make use of a review. The two they used up in the first five overs yesterday left them without any more until the 80th over and de Villiers survived, a second time.

The body blow
After trying everything they could to end Graeme Smith's stubborn stay at the crease without success, Pakistan could only try and make him as uncomfortable as possible. Mohammed Irfan saw Smith backing away to the leg side and followed him. The bouncer struck Smith flush on the helmet and he was in immediate pain. He walked towards square leg, dropped his bat and went down on his haunches, removing his helmet. He smiled, as though a little dazed, and waited for the physiotherapist to assess him. While de Villiers appeared worried, Smith seemed to only need a few moments to collect himself before he soldiered on.

The ninth life
De Villiers got away with the previous two chances against him and one more when he reviewed being given out lbw off Ajmal and battled cramp but he could have been certain it was his day when he snuck in to avoid being run-out late in the afternoon session. After cutting Irfan behind point, de Villiers decided to push for the second run. The throw came in to Akmal in time for him to break the stumps but de Villiers' dive beat that. He had to extend himself to lie fully flat on the ground, arm outstretched with a bat extension on the end. The effort was worth it because de Villiers was just in.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent