Century puts South Africa on road to whitewash
Quinton de Kock made a free-flowing century at No 7 and equalled his career-best score as South Africa turned the screws on Pakistan by setting the tourists 381 to win the final test and avoid a series whitewash.
Pakistan’s batsmen responded with signs of the fight that’s been missing for most of a one-sided series so far, reaching 153/3 at stumps on the third day of the fast-moving third test. That reduced the equation to 228 more runs needed with seven wickets in hand.
Asad Shafiq was 48 not out off 47 balls and approaching the daunting challenge with an attacking mindset.
Babar Azam, one of Pakistan’s best batsmen this series, was settling in on 17 not out.
The scale of the challenge Pakistan is still significant.
The tourists need to make the second-highest fourth-innings score ever at the Wanderers in Johannesburg to avoid losing the series 3-0. There have only been three fourth-innings totals of 300 or higher in more than 60 years of test cricket at the Wanderers. South Africa hold the record with their 450/7 against India in December 2013 and Pakistan’s would be the next best score should they chase successfully.
Surviving for a draw is an unlikely proposition. It’s all or nothing for Pakistan.
Openers Imam-ul-Haq (35) and Shan Masood (37) gave Pakistan a
for positive start with a 67-run partnership. Both fell to Dale Steyn in the space of four overs, though, a reminder that wickets have fallen in clutches on a swinging and seaming pitch and Pakistan are still a long way off victory.
removed Azhar Ali with a brutish short ball that reared up at the batsman’s head. Azhar gloved to wicketkeeper de Kock to give Olivier, Pakistan’s main destroyer, his 22nd wicket of the series — surely enough for the man of the series award.
Olivier’s return is the second-best for a South African bowler ever in a three-test series and three wickets off the record.
Earlier, de Kock hit 129 from just 138 balls with 18 fours and a six as he and Hashim Amla (71) put on 102 and dug South Africa out of trouble in their second innings.
De Kock arrived with South Africa on 93/5 and in a precarious position and departed at 302/8 with his team in complete control. South Africa, who had resumed the day on 135/5, were eventually all out for 303.
The wicketkeeper-batsman looked assured throughout, save for a few nervous moments when he was on 99 and couldn’t find the single he needed for his fourth test century and first in two years.
After a couple of aborted runs with batting partner Kagiso Rabada, and one shot which hit Rabada and prevented runs, de Kock got one through for a boundary and was celebrating halfway down the pitch, on one knee and punching the air.
Quinton de Kock’s century at No 7 put the Proteas in a strong position.