South Africa have given themselves a great chance of winning the second Test in Rawalpindi against Pakistan, having ended Day Four on 127 for 1, needing a further 243 runs to win. Aiden Markram (59*) and Rassie Van der Dussen (48*) have put on 94 for the second wicket, which has set up a wonderful platform for the Proteas to draw level in the two-Test series. Dean Elgar (17) was the only wicket to fall, caught behind off Shaheen Afridi after he chased a ball outside off.
Earlier, it was Mohammad Rizwan’s maiden ton (115*), which had given Pakistan the initiative, helping them set South Africa a target of 370. Rizwan put on 97 for the ninth wicket with Nauman Ali (45) which helped put Pakistan in command. Rizwan became only the seventh Pakistan wicketkeeper to score a century in Tests. He came in with Pakistan in spot of bother at 63 for four and batted extremely well, first with Faheem Ashraf (29) and then Yasir Shah (23), putting on fifty-run partnerships with both of them to dig Pakistan out of trouble.
But it was Rizwan’s partnership with Nauman which took Pakistan from a par score to a match-winning one. However, as things stand, that too might not be enough. Teams batting first have not won a Test in Rawalpindi since Pakistan managed to do so against Zimbabwe in 1993. That trend might continue if South Africa dig deep and knock over the remaining runs.
After bowling less just 35 balls in the first innings due to a finger injury, George Linde bounced back magnificently to pick up his maiden five-wicket haul in Tests in the second innings. Keshav Maharaj too chipped in with three wickets to restrict Pakistan to 298 in their second innings.
Pitch map - George Linde
On Day Three, Hasan Ali led the way with his second fifer in Tests to bowl South Africa out for 201, thereby handing his team a vital 71-run lead. When Pakistan lost half their side with just 76 runs on the board, it looked for a brief period of time that the Proteas could be chasing a target under 200, but Rizwan and Co. dug their team out of a hole to give themselves a fighting chance.
There doesn’t seem to be any demons in the pitch yet, but that could quickly change as the day progresses on Day Five, with spinners possibly coming into play. While Markram and Van der Dussen have negotiated everything thrown at them thus far, they will have to do it all over again on the final day of the series, which may not be that easy but not entirely impossible.
Pakistan 272 (Faheem Ashraf 78*, Fawad Alam 45; Anrich Nortje 5 for 56) & 298 (Mohammad Rizwan 115*, Nauman Ali 45; George Linde 5 for 64) lead South Africa 201 (Temba Bavuma 44*, Wiaan Mulder 33; Hasan Ali 5 for 54) & 127 for 1 (Aiden Markram 59*, Rassie Van der Dussen 48*; Shaheen Afridi 1 for 22) by 242 runs.