Disciplined bowling gives Pakistan the advantage
Pakistan ended the first day of the second Test against South Africa holding the upper hand, after a consistent display from the bowlers saw the visitors reduced to 259 for 6.
South Africa, opting to bat after winning the toss, lost wickets at regular intervals but managed to string together a few partnerships before bad light saw play called off seven overs before the scheduled close.
The day began on a good note for Pakistan with Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul bowling a probing line and troubling the batsmen frequently with off-the-seam movement. Gul began to err once the early zip in the pitch disappeared but removed Herschelle Gibbs, who played a loose drive to gully.
At the other end, Asif looked a much-improved bowler from the last Test and his immaculate line and movement had the batsmen playing and missing regularly. He was duly rewarded for his consistency when Hashim Amla left an off-cutter that pitched outside off-stump but shaped in to hit the top of off. Asif kept the batsmen not only quiet but second-best throughout the day, exploiting whatever assistance the little grass left on the pitch could offer.
Danish Kaneria, getting considerable turn but bowling too wide to start off with, settled down well as the South African batsmen opted for defence rather than stroke-play. Kaneria troubled the left-handers more, zipping one past Graeme Smith's defence as the batsman came forward to defend. Unlike the Karachi pitch that crumbled from the first hour, Kaneria had to work with the bowler's footmarks and was duly rewarded.
Jacques Kallis looked set for another big score when he went past 50 for the third consecutive time in the series. Driving the ball elegantly on either side of the wicket, Kallis once again frustrated the Pakistan attack with solid defence and accurate placement. He hit a huge six in Abdur Rehman's first over but was undone by a Kaneria googly as he shaped to play the ball towards midwicket and was trapped leg before.
That brought together Ashwell Prince, South Africa's mainstay of recent months, and AB de Villiers and a slow passage of play followed, the batsmen content to block a majority of the balls and concentrate on singles.. Prince fell while charging down the wicket to Rehman, only to be beaten by the turn and loop, with the ball hitting the stumps. Perhaps it was the slow scoring that resulted in his downfall.
Pakistan took the new ball in the hope of quick wickets before the close of play. They got a lucky break when a fierce drive from Mark Boucher touched Asif's fingers and hit the stumps at the non-striker's end, where de Villiers was found short after a slow but steady 45.
Soon after de Villiers fell, play was called off due to bad light. Pakistan will want to further the advantage on day two while South Africa will hope Boucher and the tail can take them past the 300-run mark on a pitch getting slower and better for batting.
Faras Ghani is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo