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The Bulletin by Faras Ghani
October 10, 2007
South Africa, inspired by an unbeaten 88-run partnership between Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis, strengthened their grip on the second Test with an overall lead of 305 and eight wickets in hand - and two days' play to go. Earlier in the day, Pakistan lost six wickets for 66 runs to be dismissed for 206 in their first innings.
Smith helped South Africa to a confident start as he glanced, drove and pulled with ease against the erratic Pakistan opening bowlers, Umar Gul finding ample off-the-seam movement with the new ball. Mohammad Asif, however, looked out of sorts and lacked pace and variety and was taken off the attack after bowling four overs. He is reported to have injured his elbow and will undergo an MRI scan tomorrow.
Legspinner Danish Kaneria's introduction into the attack in the eighth over of the innings caused problems for the openers but he was kept largely at bay as Smith, after playing and missing on several occasions, refused to counter-attack and relied on solid defence and quick singles.
The partnership was broken, though, by Umar Gul, a loose delivery that Herschelle Gibbs drove away from his body and edged to Kamran Akmal.
While Smith took his time against Kaneria, Pakistan's other spinner, Abdur Rehman, caused problems for Hashim Amla at the other end as the ball turned and bounced sharply. Ironically, it was lack of turn from Rehman that led to Amla's downfall as, with three close men on the off side, Amla opted to play straight and the ball sneaked through between bat and pad.
That, though, proved to be Pakistan's last success on a slow day. Smith and Kallis, with a fifty and two centuries in the last three outings on this tour, relied mainly on singles, helped by Pakistan's sluggish fielding effort. Smith, stuck for 18 deliveries on 48, reached his first fifty of the series off 117 deliveries and, a forceful cut and sweep later, was sitting happily on 75 when bad light forced yet another early close.
It was in sharp contrast to the flurry of wickets in the morning, when Pakistan managed to pass the follow-on mark mainly due to a brief fightback by Misbah-ul-Haq and Rehman that helped them cross 200. Inzamam-ul-Haq fell in the second over of the day - edging Kallis' fourth ball of the match - and Pakistan were in further trouble when Shoaib Malik, their captain, was caught at short leg off Dale Steyn. Misbah, the overnight batsman, was then joined by Rehman and the pair looked to increase the score gradually.
Content with taking singles where available and giving Rehman the strike, Misbah drove Kallis to extra cover to take Pakistan past the follow-on and repeated the shot off Andre Nel. The duo looked at ease against the innocuous pace and line of the fast bowlers. Paul Harris, who looked the most threatening of the bowlers yesterday, was unable to get much turn off the pitch as Rehman flicked him to square leg and drove past mid-on for fours.
However, Ntini's introduction into the attack caused Misbah to hang his bat loosely outside his stumps and, as the fine edge was taken by Boucher, Pakistan's last hopes of matching South Africa's total vanished. Gul played across the line to the next ball and was beaten by the pace and adjudged leg-before. Although Kaneria's edge fell short of second slip on the hat-trick ball, a rejuvenated Ntini managed to induce another edge that completed Boucher's 400 dismissals behind the stumps. The last wicket - of Asif - fell in the first over after lunch to hand South Africa a handy 151-run first innings lead.
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