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The Report by Alan Gardner
February 2, 2013
South Africa 253 and 207 for 3 (de Villers 63*, Amla 50*) lead Pakistan 49 (Steyn 6-8, Kallis 2-11) by 411 runs
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details
South Africa took their opponents by the throat and shook them into submission on the second day at the Wanderers, as Pakistan collapsed to their lowest-ever total in Tests before watching helplessly as a 411-run gulf opened between the sides. Dale Steyn took 6 for 8 in an extraordinary, lethal display before half-centuries from Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers pressed home South Africa's dominance.
If Pakistan were under the impression that South Africa would be obliging hosts after a profitable first day at the Wanderers, they were quickly disabused of that notion. Mauled by Steyn, with Vernon Philander and Jacques Kallis picking the carcass clean, they were saved from the potential ignominy of being bowled out twice in a day by Smith's decision not to enforce the follow-on, despite a 204-run lead. Although there is a possibility of rain, with three days left in the game Pakistan look to be on course for a hiding on the Highveld.
Earlier, Steyn recorded his 20th five-wicket haul in Tests either side of lunch, as Pakistan were confounded by pace, swing and bounce. Nine batsmen fell caught behind the wicket, with six victims for de Villiers equalling the record for a South Africa wicketkeeper; Steyn, in particular, bowled a line of beauty and Pakistan quivered along at less than two runs an over. Remarkably, this was the third time in 15 months that South Africa have bowled out a side for less than 50, after the routs of New Zealand and Australia in Cape Town.
As South Africa ascended to the No. 1 Test ranking over the last year, the sight of their dominance has become increasingly familiar. They dispatched England and Australia in their own backyards and Smith's team are now relishing the chance to display their talents in front of home crowds. The only disappointment for the Johannesburg locals may be that this contest - like the two Tests against New Zealand last month - is unlikely to go anywhere near the distance.
The Pakistan innings could not have resembled a horror show any more had Freddy Krueger been spotted in the stands. As ever, Steyn was a batsman's nightmare incarnate, his opening spell decapitating the Pakistan top-order in a manner worthy of any slasher flick to leave them 12 for 3. After lunch, with Pakistan listing on 40 for 7, he returned with eyes still blazing. If the batsmen were luckless sailors, Steyn was a glimpse of St Elmo's fire, forecasting their doom. His relentless display produced six wickets and 39 dot balls - and only allowed three scoring shots - in 8.1 overs of mesmeric bowling. He now has 19 wickets at 8.31 from two-and-a-half Tests in 2013. Perhaps, with South Africa's light Test programme this year, he has decided to stockpile them early.
A partnership of 24 in almost 14 overs between Azhar Ali and Misbah-ul-Haq for the fourth wicket was the wafer-thin mint of comfort for Pakistan, before the darkness swallowed them up again. Their last seven wickets fell for 13 runs and the roar of the crowd became a blanket of white noise.
Mohammad Hafeez was the first to go, set up by a back-of-a-length delivery that seared past the edge and over the top of off stump. The next ball, the 11th of the morning, was fuller and wider, pulling Hafeez across and into a fateful flirt. His opening partner, Nasir Jamshed, did not last much longer, pinned in front of leg stump by an inswinger two balls after surviving a review to a similar delivery from Vernon Philander that was judged to have been passing over the top.
Jamshed's debut was ended on 2, but experience was no defence against Steyn's weapons and he amassed further destruction with the final ball of the sixth over, as a full delivery left Younis Khan to take the outside edge.
Pakistan had been billed as the main event during the South African Test summer, after New Zealand were packed up and dispatched with indecent haste. That theory had been bolstered on the first day, as Pakistan's bowlers showed why they are so highly regarded, but the real test was to be of the batsmen. A spell of seven consecutive maidens - and 47 balls without a run from the bat - showed just how difficult the South African syllabus can be.
Azhar and Misbah have both played dogged innings in the past but the former was surprised by a brute of a lifter from Kallis - even when Steyn and Philander were removed from the attack, there was no release. Misbah, having been hit on the forearm, the stomach and the hands, was channelling all his qualities of resistance but he was dislodged after a successful South Africa review. The ball was slightly short and wide but there was a feather of an edge, detectable only by Hot Spot. Pakistan may have felt that even technology was conspiring against them: Faf du Plessis had survived a similar review on the first day and de Villiers was reprieved on 49 against Saeed Ajmal in the second innings, despite inconclusive replays.
In the dressing room, Pakistan's coach, Dav Whatmore, sprang from his seat in surprise; he would quickly have slumped back down, however, as Philander took wickets six and seven in the next over. Junaid Khan hit Philander for consecutive fours in an attempt to get Pakistan past 53 - the follow-on target and their previous lowest Test score - but Steyn was irresistible.
Although his bowlers had been exerted for less than 30 overs between them, Smith chose to stay the execution. The strategy drew some flak but South Africa could afford to bludgeon home their advantage and Smith was doubtless wary of having to bat last against Ajmal. The openers duly added 82 on a pitch that was still assisting the seamers, Smith reaching fifty in his 100th Test as captain, and although three wickets fell for 17, the innings progressed comfortably enough at around four runs an over as Amla and de Villiers combined for an unbroken 108. Pakistan may have spoiled Smith's birthday on Friday but, by now, they had been well and truly Biffed.
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