Proteas on the verge of clean sweep
STUNNING: WICKETKEEPER PROVIDES A MASTERCLASS Shafiq, Babar give Pakistan some hope at the Wanderers.
Proteas wicketkeeper/ batsman Quinton de Kock was unusually emotional upon scoring his fourth Test century at the Wanderers yesterday, but as it turned out his brilliant 129 was also a crucial innings as Pakistan have seven wickets in hand and 228 runs to get on the fourth day of the third Test.
De Kock’s innings, which equalled his career-best score made against England at Centurion in 2015/16, was a thrilling display of strokeplay that came off just 138 deliveries, with 18 fours and a six. It was his first century since his 101 against Sri Lanka at Newlands in January 2017.
It lifted South Africa from 93/5 when he came in to 303 all out, leaving Pakistan with a daunting target of 381 for victory. De Kock shared a potentially match-winning sixth-wicket stand of 102 with Hashim Amla, who fought hard but also unveiled several classy strokes in scoring 71.
Kagiso Rabada (21) then hung around for an hour-and-a-half with De Kock as another 79 runs were added for the eighth wicket.
The tourists had reached 153/3 at stumps and Asad Shafiq was on a run-a-ball 48 not out.
“I was a bit pumped up as I haven’t scored a century in quite a while. It was frustrating because you always try your best for the team.
“They were an important last couple of partnerships because it looks like we needed those runs at the end of the day. It’s a good wicket now, it’s definitely got better. Hopefully we can nick the Pakistan batsmen off tomorrow, but it will be quite tough because the pitch is playing quite well and there are decent batsmen in the mix,” De Kock said.
Pakistan started their chase half-an-hour before tea and Imam-ul-Haq (35) and Shan Masood (37) stretched their opening stand to 67 in 81 minutes, their best of the series.
But Dale Steyn’s little burst when he bowled superbly to the left-handers from around the wicket was just what stand-in captain Dean Elgar would have wanted, with the champion fast bowler having both openers caught behind to move up to tiedeighth on the all-time Test wicket-takers’ list alongside Rangana Herath and Stuart Broad on 433 scalps. Just two more wickets today will move him past Kapil Dev into sixth place.
Duanne Olivier again dominated Azhar Ali with the short ball and had him caught behind for 15, his 22nd wicket of the series and just four short of breaking the 116-year-old South African record for a three-match series set by Charlie “Buck” Llewellyn.
Pakistan had slipped to 104/3, but Shafiq and Babar Azam (17*) bossed the final 40 minutes, setting up the series for its most competitive final day.
TOP KNOCK. Proteas batsman Quinton de Kock celebrates after scoring his century during the third day of the third Test against Pakistan at the Wanderers yesterday.