Seventh home series win
Pakistan show some fight though to take Test into a fourth day
SOMETIME today, possibly early in the morning, South Africa will win the second Test. Victory against Pakistan will extend their winning sequence to seven consecutive home series conquests and the record will show that they have also won 18 of their past 20 Tests on Mzansi soil.
The fact that South Africa need to come back and score the 41 runs required was partially due to a comical last hour and the defiance of three top-order half-centuries from Shan Masood, Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam.
After showing neither the wit nor the will to play their way out of trouble in their previous three innings on this tour of South Africa, Pakistan’s batsmen dug deep to keep a rampant home team attack at bay.
It certainly was required after Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada had once again reduced the visitors to 16/2, which was light years away from making the home side bat again after the Proteas had earlier taken a 254-run first innings lead.
But Masood, one of the tourists’ rare positives on this tour, and the experienced Shafiq batted with grit, resolve and no little flair to push onwards to a 132-run stand for the third wicket. It was also Pakistan’s first three-figure partnership of the series.
South Africa, though, knew that they only needed one breakthrough and they could climb into the Pakistan middle and lower order.
The fact that it was Steyn (4/85) who engineered it was extra special for the veteran fast bowler still prides himself on being captain Faf du Plessis’s “go-to-man”.
A little nibble from Masood to Quinton de Kock behind the stumps and South Africa were ready to complete their conquest in three days again. This looked even more likely when Fakhar Zaman hauled out a horrific pull shot against Rabada that reduced Pakistan to 201/5 – a deficit of still 53 runs with only five wickets remaining.
However, Pakistan’s lower-order were content to show coach Mickey Arthur that they could counter not only the hostile South African bowling attack but also the pitch he berated just a day earlier.
At the forefront of this resistance was Azam as he rallied towards a second half-century of the series, and together with some wayward bowling towards the back end of the elongated afternoon session from, particularly, Duanne Olivier, the visitors managed to eke out a lead.
There were opportunities for South Africa to close out the innings earlier when Rabada (4/61) spilled a regulation catch, and even more importantly Vernon Philander, overstepped the front crease with Pakistan leading by only 24 runs.
This would have left SA time to haul down the target, but the players already off the field were called back to complete the innings, allowing the visitors to add a further 16 runs that ensured the second Test will indeed enjoy a fourth day regardless of how short it may eventually turn out to be. KAIZER CHIEFS (1) 1
MAMELODI SUNDOWNS (1) 2 PITSO Mosimane ran half the length of the pitch to celebrate Lebohang Maboe’s late goal as Mamelodi Sundowns gate-crashed Kaizer Chiefs’ 49th birthday celebrations and then urinated on their most expensive carpet.
With the score deadlocked at 1-1 and both teams looking happy to settle for a point, the Brazilians stole maximum points at the death with a lucky goal by Maboe.
The Sundowns midfielder scored in an empty net after Virgil Vries made a meal of stopping Lyle Lakay’s lob.
As if on cue, the cameraman showed a disappointed Itumeleng Khune in the stands, wearing an arm brace. Chiefs’ No1 missed this clash due to the injury which paved the way for the Namibian to start.
Vries had had an uneventful afternoon before that howler. Such is the life of the goalkeeper; most of the blame for this loss will go to Vries even though it should go to Chiefs’ attack.
The hosts dominated Sundowns, with coach Ernst Middendorp winning the tactical battle, but they were made to pay for their missed chances and failure to capitalise on their dominance. This result showed why Sundowns are the reigning Absa Premiership champions and why Chiefs are searching for their mojo.
Sundowns can still scrape a result even when it’s not their day, while Amakhosi can’t even get a victory on their best day.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Amakhosi though. At face value, Middendorp gave Chiefs a bitter-tasting cake for the 49th birthday they will celebrate tomorrow. But the German is cooking something that could be edible with a few improvements, especially in the final third.
For the better part of this match his men had the upper hand against a team that is now unbeaten in 26 league matches.
Chiefs responded well to Laffor’s opener by quickly pulling one back through Willard Katsande. But their biggest achievement is how their line-up stifled Sundowns.
Mosimane, a methodical planner, was caught by surprise. Sundowns couldn’t penetrate through the centre and their options were quickly limited on the flanks, forcing the Brazilians to play on the back foot.
Mosimane gingerly walked off the field at half-time, already planning what he’d do to counter Middendorp’s plan. He flashed the peace sign, a symbol synonymous with Amakhosi, and Chiefs fans didn’t know whether to be angry or delighted with the gesture.
The heavens opened just after the final whistle and Chiefs will be hoping that the large downpour will wash away their misfortunes as they look to turn things around in 2019.
PAKISTAN batsman Shan Masood bouncer at Newlands. | ducks a