A resolute and determined fifth wicket stand of 101 in 45 overs between Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq stalled South Africa’s push for victory on the third day of the first Sunfoil Test at Bidvest Wanderers on Sunday.
Requiring a daunting 480 for victory the tourists were in deep trouble at 82-4 in the 30th over before Misbah (44*) and Shafiq (53*) made the most of a life each to take their team to 183-4 at the close requiring another 297 for an extraordinary victory in the two days which remain.
South Africa resumed at the start of play on 207-3 with AB de Villiers on 63 and Hashim Amla on 50, a lead of 411, and de Villiers completed his century in thrilling style with a series of dazzling improvisations, reverse sweeping spinner Saeed Ajmal and exposing his stumps in order to drive through the off side.
His 15th Test century arrived from just 117 deliveries when he drove his 11th boundary through the covers leaving Amla unbeaten on 74 from 114 balls with seven fours when the declaration came.
Amla and de Villiers required just 45 minutes and nine overs to add a further 68 runs in the morning session before Graeme Smith declared at 275-3.
Vernon Philander struck in just his second over when Mohammed Hafeez glanced a leg side delivery into a diving de Villiers’ gloves but stiff resistance from Nasir Jamshed (46) and Azhar Ali (18) confirmed that the Proteas attack would have to work significantly longer and harder in the second innings.
Opener Jamshed nudged Dale Steyn to mid on to end a stand of 57 and Azhar departed soon after lbw to Jacques Kallis. When Younis Khan (15) removed his bat too late against Morne Morkel and provided de Villiers with his eighth catch of the match, the tourists were 82-4 with 50 minutes to go before tea.
Misbah and Shafiq dug deep but both should have been dismissed. Shafiq edged Philander to Smith at slip on 40 and was halfway to the change room before the no-ball was spotted and Misbah was equally fortunate when Robin Peterson dropped a straightforward chance at backward point off Kallis.