JOHANNESBURG – At 11.40am on Friday, South Africa were a dropped catch and a television umpire’s review away from being 16/3.
Oh, what could have been for Pakistan.
The final result, looks comfortable - it was anything but, just ask Dean Elgar. He was dismissed after a more than three hour battle in which he scored 50, nursing bruises to his left fore-arm, his hand, his inner thigh and his right elbow.
Batting here was no easy task and while the pitches at Newlands and Wanderers are unlikely to be as spicy, given the seam bowling talent in these two attacks, runs will be hard to come by.
Pakistan will rue their miss-fortune in that first hour. Hashim Amla was dropped by Fakhar Zaman at third slip when he had eight, and as he has done for many times in his career when he’s had such luck he made the opposition pay. He'll hope his unbeaten 63, will be the foundation for greater success in the rest of the international season.
And then the most dramatic moment of the morning; the catch taken by Azhar Ali at slip when Elgar was on four that was overturned by TV umpire Joel Wilson, much to chagrin of the tourists and their coach Mickey Arthur who stormed into the match referee’s office. *
The ‘soft signal’ from the on-field umpires was out and Elgar - who started walking back to the dressing room after viewing the first replay on the big screen - said afterwards he was happy to accept that Azhar had taken the catch.
“The umpire (Bruce Oxenford) just told me that the television umpire had a clearer picture. I thought it was a clean catch,” said Sarfraz.
Elgar and Amla went onto register a 119-run partnership for the second wicket that the Proteas home.
However the third morning’s miss-fortune aside, Pakistan will look back at yet another nightmare session of batting as the point where the match was lost for them. “(On Thursday) after tea, if we had batted another hour...but we didn’t capitalise on that good start, we lost too many wickets, which cost us the match,” said Sarfraz.
South Africa married discipline to their aggression perfectly in that session. Duanne Olivier, named man of the match with a return of 11/96, got the ball rolling dismissing Imam ul-Haq and Azhar Ali in his first two overs after the interval, following which Kagiso Rabada produced a magnificent spell - in which he claimed 3/13 in five overs - featuring seam and swing to crush the Pakistanis.
“Duanne gave our attack variety. He was banging the ball into the surface and then you had KG with his skill and Dale who was pitching it up,” said Du Plessis.
It certainly proved too much for Pakistan who’s own bowlers were outstanding throughout. “We know we have the bowling, we just need to get runs on the board,” Sarfraz remarked.
With his team now down in the series, there will be a lot more pressure on him in the lead up to the New Year’s Test. The reports on Friday of a dressing-room clash with Arthur, will only add to the scrutiny for the team as they prepare for Newlands.
With the match having finished in just two and half days, Sarfraz was asked if rest or training was preferable given the extra days at his side’s disposal. “Rest is best,” he answered. All the batsmen in this Test will agree.
Day 3 of 5
Pakistan 181 and 190
South Africa 223 and 151/4
SA won by 6 wickets
* Arthur has received an official warning and one demerit point for breaching the ICC Code of Conduct during the third day’s play in the first Test, which South Africa won by six wickets at Centurion on Friday.
Arthur was found to have violated Article 2.8 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel, which relates to “showing dissent at an umpire’s decision during an international match”.@shockerhess
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