In keeping with the see-saw nature of this contest, South Africa fought back to claim a lead of 29 by stumps on the third day in Karachi, but late wickets could cost them heavily.
Pakistan’s last two batsmen had done well to add as many as 70 runs to their overnight 308/8, giving the home side a healthy lead of 158. But thanks to Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen’s resilient half-centuries, South Africa looked good to end the day in a strong position.
However, late in the day, the visitors lost the well-set Markram and van der Dussen, along with Faf du Plessis, to leave them unsteady at 187/4 at stumps. Pakistan will now be hopeful of triggering a slide, and knocking the visitors out for an achievable target.
Pakistan struggled for most of the day, but the first hour belonged to the home side, thanks to a last-wicket partnership of 55 between Yasir Shah and Nauman Ali. They came together after Hasan Ali had his stumps uprooted by Kagiso Rabada for his 200th Test scalp – he became the third-quickest South African to the mark, in his 44th Test.
With little to lose, Yasir and Nauman, the debutant, went at it. Between them, there were eight boundaries, with Yasir even going over the ropes. He ended on an unbeaten 37-ball 38*, and his brief cameo had seemingly pushed Pakistan into a position of dominance.
That was until the South African batsmen came to the party, their intentions to stifle clear from the outset. They negated the second hour of the first session carefully to go into Lunch on 37/0, and despite the fall of Dean Elgar (29) shortly into the second session – he was caught behind off Yasir thanks to a diving effort by Mohammad Rizwan behind the stumps – the visitors managed to avoid the slide.
In what was a key session, the South Africans displayed grit and application. Makram was supported by van der Dussen, and the duo completed the first task of batting through the rest of the session without losing a wicket, going through to Tea at 84/1. In the final session, they ensured they didn’t get bogged down either, putting away the loose deliveries whenever they could to slowly eat away at the deficit.
They batted together for the most part of the final session, and were on track to see through the day, with Pakistan’s bowlers struggling and failing. However, in his final burst, Yasir proved to be unplayable. He first had van der Dussen flummoxed by a slower ball that dipped. He then trapped du Plessis plumb in front for 10, before the killer blow was struck by the debutant Nauman, who did Markram with extra bounce.
And just like that, the Test had a very different complexion heading into the penultimate day.
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