Proteas sweat before they have first innings lead in the bag
South Africa established a first innings lead on the cusp of lunch on the second day of the second Test against Pakistan on Friday.
Captain Faf du Plessis (33 not out) and Temba Bavuma (15 not out) steered the team to 188/4 in their first innings in reply to Pakistan’s 177.
It wasn’t all plain sailing however.
The wicket‚ which seemed to flatten out towards the end of the first day‚ has started offering variable bounce and some members of the Pakistan attack duly altered their line of enquiry.
Mohammad Abbas‚ bowling from the Kelvin End‚ quickly settled into a wicket-to-wicket line and for the hosts it proved unsettling.
Hashim Amla‚ who showed signs of a return to form in the second innings of the first Test‚ had made a promising start here before Abbas rearranged his stumps.
Amla seemed to shuffle across his stumps with a bit more purpose than usual and found his leg stump exposed and knocked back by the in-swinger.
If that caused a slight flutter in the South African dressing room the dismissal of Theunis de Bruyn should have left them cold.
De Bruyn drove expansively away from his body and thick-edged Shaheen Afridi to gully where Babar Azam took a smart catch. Babar made it look infinitely easier than it really was.
The shot to which he got out should trouble De Bruyn. He is struggling to establish himself in this squad and a tighter technique under the circumstances would have served him better.
Coming into his seventh Test he averages 21 and were it not for the ton he scored in Colombo earlier this year the selectors would barely be able to justify his continued selection.
South Africa may have been in a worse position had another contentious decision not gone their way.
Bavuma earned a reprieve when he was adjudged not out after he nicked the ball to Azhar Ali at first slip.
Bavuma stood his ground in the belief the ball might have been grassed before Azhar snatched it. Bavuma was adjudged not out upon review‚ a decision that would no doubt have rankled with Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur who endured similar torment at SuperSport Park involving the same fielder last week.
Bavuma and Du Plessis went on to lunch with few hiccups and by 12.15 South Africa had established a first innings lead.