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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Aditya on October 25, 2013, 4:00 GMT

    very sad to see Pakistan continue with their inconsistent ways. fielding is no way near any other Asian team

  • Rana on October 24, 2013, 19:41 GMT

    Will the real Pakistani team please stand up? Can never really get a good read on this team. It looked like they really didn't want to be out there today. They looked old and slow and they desperately need an influx of some innovation and energy. Misbah 39, Younis 36, Babar 35, Ajmal 36...sounds like India with Laxman, SRT, Sehwag, Zaheer. Pakistan is done in this test.

  • Dummy4 on October 24, 2013, 15:43 GMT

    Being a pakistani very much dissapointed but smith and ab devielliers show thier class and skill and prove why there are no.1 side .pakistani batters should learn by watching how these two legends are playing..the only thing what we want from our team if you are loosing thematch no problem but loose after putting some fight.

  • I on October 24, 2013, 15:08 GMT

    Can't blame Pakistan's bowlers for looking flat, their batsmen have let them down badly again, given them nothing to work with, and the luck has gone against them with decisions. It would have been better for Pakistan to have forfeited their first innings for 0 - at least they'd have have the chance to bowl with some early movement to exploit instead of the token 99 runs they made which amounts to nothing in this match. Really depends on when Smith wants to declare - personally, I think he already should have declared by now, and given his bowlers a chance at the evening session, but if he wants to be conservative/go for his triple century, then that's up to him - plenty of time left. It would take the spirit of 11 Misbahs to survive 2 and a half days to draw this test.

  • Dominque on October 24, 2013, 14:33 GMT

    Proud of Smith and Dive....what a wonderful performs showing a CLASS not an spurt of medicity. The game is still on for an innings and 400 runs?

  • Josh on October 24, 2013, 14:24 GMT

    Pakistan looked flat today, they were unlucky but they just allowed things to happen, no urgency by Misbah

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