|Abdur Rehman celebrates after taking the key wicket of South Africa batsman AB de Villiers on the fourth day of the final Test at the Abu Dhabi cricket Stadium [AFP]|
South Africa took a lead of 323 runs with six second-innings wickets in hand on Tuesday as they attempted to force a win in the second and final Test against Pakistan.
South Africa closed at 173-4 after dismissing Pakistan for 434 for a lead of 150.
Abdur Rehman (60) scored a maiden Test fifty as Pakistan’s tail end batsmen helped them avoid the follow-on. He then took three wickets to check South Africa’s pursuit of quick runs on a flat pitch.
“It was a good day for me, batting and bowling, and the team needed this,” Rehman said.
“My batting record is better in first-class so my coaches and captain told me last night to just stay at the wicket as long as possible and gave me the confidence.”
Ashwell Prince and Mark Boucher were at the crease for South Africa at the close. Captain and opener Graeme Smith did not bat after suffering a fractured hand, which could rule him out for three weeks ahead of the series against India starting December 16.
Alviro Peterson and Hashim Amla began the innings confidently before Rehman trapped Peterson lbw for 35 with the last ball before tea. Amla (62) went on to strike yet another half-century to become the third batsman this year to score 1000 runs, after Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.
Amla’s dismissal by Rehman was an example of the occasional turn offered by the pitch, something both sides will be looking out for. The ball pitched on middle and hit off stump as South Africa’s most in-form batsman departed.
“That confidence (from batting) also rubbed (off) on my bowling,” Rehman added.
“It was a nice feeling to get Amla. It was a prized wicket. It is still a batting pitch though the odd ball is turning in the rough areas. But we hope to do well in batting again tomorrow, whether it is (against) their fast bowlers or spinners.”
|Fourth day scorecard|
South Africa first innings 584 -9 dec
South Africa second innings
That turn created uncertainty for A.B. de Villiers, the double centurion and top-scorer from South Africa’s first innings, as Rehman grew in confidence. De Villiers had made 25 when he played for the spin only for the ball to go straight on and trap him leg before.
Jacques Kallis, who is also approaching 1000 runs in the year, could not time a pull shot against part-time offspinner Mohammad Hafeez and was caught by Taufeeq Umar at square leg having made 10.
Earlier, when Pakistan resumed the day at 317-6, their chances of avoiding the follow-on looked slim when the last recognised batsman in captain Misbah-ul-Haq was bowled by Dale Steyn with the first ball of the day.
Umar Gul hit 21 but it was a 59 run partnership for the ninth wicket between Rehman and debutante Tanveer Ahmed (30) that took Pakistan well past the follow-on mark and up to 412 at lunch.
Both batsmen were out soon after but their efforts delayed South Africa’s second innings and gave Pakistan’s tired bowlers some important rest.
Steyn, who took 4-98, said the South Africa bowlers hoped to trigger another collapse from Pakistan’s fragile batting line up on Wednesday.
“It (the pitch) is pretty much a road out there,” Steyn said.
“Four wickets has indeed helped me. It would have been fantastic if I had picked up another one.”
On the impending declaration, Steyn added: “Nothing has been decided as of yet. We won the Twenty20 and ODI series so we would like to finish with a win here as well.”