Saeed Ajmal enjoyed a brilliant day with bat and ball as Pakistan took charge of the second Sunfoil Test match against South Africa after reducing their hosts to a precarious 139-5 – a deficit of 199 - by the close of the second day at Sahara Park Newlands on Friday.
Ajmal starred with the bat as the tourists recovered from 268-8 to make an above average 338 all in their first innings but then dominated with the ball claiming all five wickets to fall as the Proteas top order failed to cope with his mixture of off spinners, top spinners and doosras.
The first half hour of the day was the only period in which Pakistan struggled as they lost three quick wickets to Vernon Philander and appeared to have squandered their promising overnight position of 253-5.
Philander’s haul of 5-59 was his ninth five-wicket bag in just his 15th Test and third at Newlands where his 26 wickets have cost just 12.3 runs apiece. But the end of his spell signalled the beginning of a ninth wicket partnership of 64 between Ajmal (21*) and medium pacer Tanvir Ahmed who scored a swashbuckling 44 from 59 deliveries.
Robin Peterson finally wrapped the innings up when Tanvir drove the left arm spinner to mid off and last man Mohammad Irfan was bowled for six.
Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen started confidently enough against the trio of seamers but the introduction of Ajmal – and the intervention of the Decion Review System - changed everything.
Smith (19) missed a sweep and was given out lbw on appeal by the fielding side although there was no doubt about the brilliance of Azhar Ali’s bat-pad catch which removed Petersen for 17.
Hashim Amla, too, was given not out by on-field umpire Steve Davis but was sent on his way by Hawkeye having been trapped lbw on the back foot after making an increasingly convincing 25.
Jacques Kallis became the third man to be given out lbw but in highly controversial circumstances. Ajmal and short leg fielder Ali appealed for a catch which the batsman immediately referred to third umpire Billy Bowden who found no evidence of an edge.
Bowden, as he is entitled to do, then changed his review to check for lbw. All subsequent modes of dismissal to the original appeal should be checked on the basis that the on-field umpire’s decision is ‘not out.’ Hawkeye showed the ball to be clipping the outside of Kallis’ leg stump and he should, therefore, have been given not out. Bowden gave him out.
Faf du Plessis (28) could have no qualms about the brilliance of the doora which he edged to slip and South Africa were suddenly in terrible trouble at 109-5.
AB de Villiers (24*) and Dean Elgar (11*) will resume on day three with the proverbial mountain to climb.