SA back in front despite Asim Kamal's debut 99

Close South Africa 320 and 99 for 1 (Gibbs 56*) lead Pakistan 401 (Taufeeq Umar 111, Asim Kamal 99, Adams 7 for 128) by 18 runs

Despite the best efforts of Asim Kamal, who became only the third player to be dismissed for 99 on his Test debut, Pakistan's batting crumbled in the second session of play on the third day, allowing South Africa to reach 99 for 1 by stumps and regain the lead.
Pakistan had a splendid chance to build a substantial lead that, given their spin-fortified attack on a fourthand fifth-day track, might have ensured that they only needed to bat once. But after Kamal was dismissed, Paul Adams broke through the lower order to finish with 7 for 128, his best Test analysis.

Shoaib Malik and Kamal, when they began the day, seemed grimly determined to make sure that Pakistan got past South Africa's first-innings total. The runs, consequently, came slowly and stodgily, and the only excitement for much of the morning session lay in a close shave for Malik after an lbw shout. But he did not last much longer after that; once Pakistan got past 320 and into the lead, Malik played inside the line to Adams and had his off stump uprooted (322 for 5).

Kamal, the 27-year-old Karachi left-hander, seemed certain to become the tenth Pakistani to make a century on his Test debut. Instead, he achieved a more exclusive but more unwanted record shortly after lunch, becoming only the third player - after Robert Christiani and Arthur Chipperfield - to be out for 99 in his first Test.

Kamal went to 98 by tonking a full-toss from Adams back over his head to long-off, but then had to sweat for a few overs on 99. The stroke that was meant to fetch him the crucial single, therefore, was perhaps a bit loose; trying to cut a ball that was too close for the stroke, Kamal edged it into his stumps and departed in an understandably blue mood (363 for 6). It was a sad end to what had been a neat, responsible innings, with nudged singles and occasional fluid cover-drives.

While Kamal battled away, Moin Khan batted as if he had never been out of the Test side. He ran hard, placed the ball well, and struck Adams for six over long-off with the same misleading ease that he has brought to his game ever since the 1992 World Cup. At the other end, however, Adams struck twice in an over, first luring Shoaib Akhtar out of his crease to get him stumped (366 for 7), and then pushing one through to induce Mohammad Sami to chop the ball on (366 for 8).

Adams bowled well all day, tossing the ball up and varying his pace well while remaining uncompromisingly accurate. He took the final two wickets as well, trapping Moin lbw for 38 (401 for 9), and then persuading Danish Kaneria to offer a tame catch to extra cover.

South Africa started their second innings as rollickingly as the first, with Herschelle Gibbs top-edging a pull off Akhtar over fine leg for six. Although Gibbs's knock put South Africa back on top by the close of play, it was not one of his best. Early on he collected a lot of his runs from edges, and only after the spinners came on did he start to settle down.

Akhtar got rid of Smith early on, when a swift delivery rose off a good length to take the shoulder of the bat and fly to slip (43 for 1). But after that Gibbs and Boeta Dippenaar dropped anchor, shrugged off some absolute jaffas from Akhtar and Sami, and refused to be worried by the sharp break that Pakistan's spinners extracted from the pitch.

Gibbs might have departed, but Moin put down the thinnest of edges off Akhtar just before tea. He was a picture of despair after grassing the chance - symbolic of the manner in which Pakistan threw away a perfectly good position in a little less than two sessions of play.

Samanth Subramanian is sub editor of Wisden Cricinfo in India.

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