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Inspired Tahir undermines Pakistan

South Africa opens up 29-run lead after leggie’s five-wicket haul sends Pakistan crashing to 99 all out

Inspired Tahir undermines Pakistan - Cricket News
Imran Tahir of South Africa bagged five wickets for 32 runs
Apart from South Africa’s reputation and standing within Test cricket, there was little serious evidence to suggest it could bounce back at all from the hiding Pakistan gave it in Abu Dhabi, let alone do so with the fury and ruthlessness of an erupting volcano.
 
Pakistan was rolled over and flattened for just 99 on the opening of the second Test in Dubai on Wednesday (October 23) before South Africa closed the day on 128 for 3 with a lead of 29. Graeme Smith, the captain, was unbeaten on 67.
 
The headlines, however, belonged to Imran Tahir, South Africa’s Pakistan-born leg-spinner who returned a career-best 5 for 32. Few outside his immediate family gave Tahir, 34, much chance of playing another Test after the humiliating mauling he took at the hands of Michael Clarke in Adelaide almost a year ago, when he returned match figures of 0 for 270. But most importantly, he did.    
 
His greatest fault in 11 previous Test matches was trying too hard and being impatient. He was undoubtedly also guilty of being unlucky, which is fatal for a spinner. “He just needs a couple of breaks to go his way,” said Smith before the match. “He believes in himself but there’s nothing like the confidence that comes with taking wickets.”
 
Two batsmen were bowled off inside edges, one gave his wicket away with a wild heave but two, including Misbah-ul-Haq who missed a perfect googly, had nobody but the bowler to blame for their dismissals.
 
Khurram Manzoor missed the first ball of the match, a trademark Dale Steyn late awayswinger, but obliged by edging an ambitious drive at the second which was snapped up by Faf du Plessis in the gully. Azhar Ali reviewed his lbw against Morne Morkel but the delivery, although angling in sharply, was hitting leg stump.
 
Smith gave Tahir an early bowl with the seamers having strangled the top order and Shan Masood drove loosely outside the off stump and played on. At 52 for 3 with barely 20 minutes until lunch, South Africa had already won the session before a calamitous clatter of three more wickets for just eight runs in five overs probably ensured it would win the entire day with Pakistan crashing to 60 for 6 at the break.
 
Younus Khan was the victim of a brilliant piece of planning and execution from Steyn, who found the outside edge with the fastest delivery of the day, Misbah then reviewed his decision in desperation rather than anticipation and Adnan Akmal played back to a quicker ball which clipped the top of leg stump.
 
Hopes of a late-order rally diminished with an absurd single attempt, although it required a fine pick and direct hit from Alviro Petersen in the gully to run out Saeed Ajmal immediately after the resumption. As the final recognised batsman, Asad Shafiq was justified in attempting to take charge with quick runs but his amateurish hoick against Tahir was worthy of the worst tailender.
 
Zulfiqar Babar’s unbeaten 25 contained three boundaries, half his team’s total, but Tahir completed his five-wicket haul by bowling Mohammad Irfan via a deflection and Steyn finished with 3 for 38 by cleaning up Junaid Khan, the last man.
 
The last time Pakistan was bowled out for 99 on the same ground, it went on to beat England by 71 runs on the fifth day. But that process started with an immediate bowling fightback. There was no such occurrence this time.
 
Petersen was plumb lbw to Zulfiqar for a positive 26 from 36 balls and Dean Elgar, occupying Hashim Amla’s No. 3 spot, was smartly snapped up by Azhar at short leg off Ajmal for 23.
 
Smith, however, was not only rock solid but, unlike the Pakistan top order, prepared to take a risk – and take the attack to the bowlers to keep the scoreboard moving. Even when Jacques Kallis missed an Ajmal doosra to fall lbw with 20 minutes of the day remaining, the South African captain refused to be cowed and was still on the front foot, literally and metaphorically, against the spinners.
 
The Test against England lasted well into the fifth day. As hard as it is to see this one doing likewise, the pitch was blameless and is likely to continue rewarding those with a penchant for hard work.

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