Pakistanis tighten grip with big lead
Pakistanis 329 (Safraz 93, Harmer 5-88) and 240 for 5 (Hafeez 83, Jamshed 51, Misbah 51*) lead South African Invitation XI 257 (van Jaarsveld 92, Vilas 62*, Ajmal 3-66) by 312 runs
The Pakistanis put themselves in prime position to record a first victory on their visit to South Africa as they bowled the hosts out and built a significant lead on the third day in East London. Nasir Jamshed and Mohammed Hafeez were among the runs again, while Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan and Umar Gul all flexed their wicket-taking muscles.
Pakistan's latest sensation, the 2.03 metre tall Mohammed Irfan, only bowled 12 overs in the first innings as team management called for fast-bowling reinforcements to be sent to South Africa. He was not needed on the third morning as it took Ajmal and Junaid just 13.1 overs to get rid of the South African Invitation XI's tail. Both finished with three scalps, while only Mohammed Hafeez went wicketless.
For the second time in the fixture, Pakistan's opening pair appeared solid. Hafeez and Jamshed put on a century stand with both making half-centuries. Hafeez was the more aggressive of the pair - his 83 coming off 109 balls before he was caught behind off the innocuous bowling of part-time medium pacer Stiaan van Zyl.
Jamshed was more circumspect. His spent four minutes short of three hours at the crease to compile his 51. Even though he seemed well set, he departed the over after Hafeez, bowled by Kyle Abbot.
Jamshed's performances in the match give Pakistan an interesting problem ahead of the Test series. Should they open the batting with the in-form debutant or, fitness permitting, return to the tried and trusted Taufeeq Umar? Taufeeq was forced to sit out the practice match because of a leg injury. He was assessed by a radiologist on Friday in East London and is awaiting the results before a call is taken on his availability.
Pakistan may consider using both players, with one batting at No.3, after Azhar Ali, Younis Khan and Asad Shafiq all failed again to leave the middle order looking shaky. They were all caught behind suggesting that some adjustment still needed to be made for South African conditions and the Invitation side would have sniffed an opening at 191 for 5.
But Misbah-ul-Haq came good and reached a half-century as stumps loomed. Sarfraz Ahmed was with him at the crease. Having already scored 93 in the first innings, Sarfraz may not need too much more practice time and the Pakistanis will look to let their bowlers have another run on the fourth day. The Pakistan squad will travel to Johannesburg on Tuesday to begin preparations for the first Test, which starts on Friday.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent