JOHANNESBURG – IOL Sport's cricket write Stuart Hess highlights some of the plays of the day from day three of the third and final Test between South Africa and Pakistan:
The mighty Hash
His future was in doubt ahead of this series, his scoring not as prodigious as in his pomp. But you ask his teammates if they want him to retire ... In the first Test on a difficult pitch, his unbeaten 63 took the side to victory and in this match he held the second innings together on Saturday evening as Pakistan’s bowlers fought with every sinew to pull their side back into the game. He scored 71, took 224 minutes to do so and faced 144 balls. There’s a lot of Test cricket still left in Hashim Amla.
Dale Steyn’s stunning spell of 6/8 against Pakistan in 2013 took place from the Golf Course End. Perhaps, understandably, that was still in his head this week. In the first innings he bowled 12 overs from that end, and he’d have had success had his teammates caught the damn ball. His first five overs yesterday were also delivered from the northern end of the ground in Pakistan’s second innings. Then he was switched to the Corlett Drive End, and like a holiday, that change worked. With his fourth ball Steyn removed Imam with a peach, with his 18th he had Shan Masood caught behind. That spell eventually finished: 5-1-11-2.
He’s the man tasked with stepping into the rather big shoes of Younis Khan and when he arrived here he averaged over 44 suggesting he was capable filling that legend’s spot. However it’s been a chastening experience for the stylish right hander. He was bombed out again by Duane Olivier yesterday, the fourth time he’s lost his wicket to the Proteas’ ‘enforcer.’ Azhar has scored 59 runs in the series for an average of 9.83.
That’s what the Wanderers felt like on yesterday after the party that was Saturday. Even the irritating band, paid to make a noise, could barely rouse itself. Quinton de Kock and Steyn woke them up in the afternoon, but the headaches were understandable. Saturday’s atmosphere was among the best seen at this ground for many a year.
No really, a genuine fourth day’s play in this series. Newlands finished on the fourth morning but that game should have finished the Saturday evening. Centurion was over midway through the third day. South Africa remain firm favourites to win with only seven wickets to get. But as a famous commentator once said: "stranger things have happened".
Quote of the Day
"I was a bit pumped up when I scored a hundred, because it was frustrating not scoring one in two years."
* Quinton de Kock on the reasons for his animated celebrations after notching up a fourth Test hundred yesterday.