January 3, 2003

Taufeeq leads Pakistan revival

Suhael Ahmed

It was a full day of absorbing Test cricket at Newlands after South Africa declared at tea on a daunting 620 for seven, and Pakistan fought back to end on 141 for 1.

Play began five minutes early to make up for the over lost last night after 70 minutes of overtime, with the home side on 445 for 3 looking to get some quick runs.

That was not to be, as the Pakistani fast bowlers bowled on a line and length to slow the scoring down, picking up wickets at regular intervals.

Mohammad Sami was the first to strike, forcing Jacques Kallis to go back to one that nipped in from the off to be adjudged lbw in the 6th over of the morning. South Africa were 463 for 4.

Neil McKenzie joined Boeta Dippenaar and they batted on carefully, hitting the bad balls. After 100 overs, with Saqlain brought on for the first time, the pair had taken the home side to 476/4.

In the 106th over the South Africa 500 came up as McKenzie steered Waqar to fine leg. For the 108th over Waqar took himself off after bowling unchanged all morning, and tossed the ball back to Sami to bowl with Saqlain from the Kelvin Grove End.

Waqar rotated his four-man attack well, and the feature for Pakistan was the return to form of Mohammad Zahid.

Just before lunch there was some drama when Saqlain Mushtaq got a ball to straighten and all the Pakistan close fielders went up for what looked a certain lbw, but the umpire thought otherwise.

Lunch was taken at 531 for four, and in the hour afterwards South Africa scored steadily. The sun came out as McKenzie reached his 50, but Zahid tucked him up getting one to straighten in the 122nd over and he edged it off the face of the bat to the keeper. The partnership had added 85, and everyone was expecting some quick runs from Boucher.

Zahid beat him a few times but it was Saqlain who got him, as he went for a huge slog sweep that missed and the ball hit leg stump. Saqlain added Dippenaar's wicket when he top edged a pull for Kamran Akmal to take it easily, running to short mid-wicket, and South Africa were seven down for 594.

Skipper Pollock came in with all expectations for quick runs and a possible declaration at tea. He did not disappoint, and at 620/7 decided to forget getting to a record 622 and declared, wanting to bowl at Pakistan for about 15 minutes. Saqlain had taken three wickets but gave away 237 runs in his 50 overs. Interestingly Mohammad Zahid came good for 2 wickets in 25 overs.

South Africa's score was the joint 3rd highest in a Test Match, only two runs short of their 622 for nine declared against Australia at Durban in 1969/70, four off the 621 for five declared against New Zealand at Auckland in 1998/99, and equal to the 620 all out against Australia at Johannesburg in 1966/67.

After tea Taufeeq Umar and Saleem Elahi came out to face Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini. The wicket played straight, and saw out 12 overs playing slowly and carefully.

Then in the 13th over Pollock got some extra bounce on off stump and Saleem Elahi was not good enough to cope, steering a catch to Smith in the slips with the score on 36.

Younis Khan joined Taufeeq, who took charge with several good looking drives, reaching his fifty in the 22nd over pulling a short one from Kallis. A good knock in 98 minutes laced with 8 fours.

Taufeeq and Younis Khan batted out the day to set up a record 105 second-wicket partnership for Pakistan against South Africa, beating the 101 set by Saeed Anwar & Aamer Sohail at Durban in 1997/98. They are still there for tomorrow.

Ntini and Pollock bowled well with support from Kallis and Boje. The crowd must have enjoyed the cricket, and at the close after 45 overs Pakistan trail by 479 with 9 wickets in hand.

Their chances of saving this Test hinge on the morning session, and centuries are required from their middle order. Taufeeq remains on 85 (129 balls, 13 fours, one six) and Younis Khan on 44 (102 balls five fours).

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