THE Castle Lager Proteas took four of the 10 second innings wickets they needed to complete victory over Pakistan by stumps on day three of the second Test match at Dubai on Friday.
At the close Pakistan had reached 132/4 and needed a massive target of a further 286 runs to make the Proteas bat again.
Nevertheless it was Pakistan’s best day of the series to date. They finally won a session when they took the last six Proteas first innings wickets for 57 runs in the morning session although it was slightly tarnished by the fact that they lost both their opening batsmen for just two runs to Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander off the 11 balls that were bowled before the delayed lunch interval.
Saeed Ajmal, as always, was the bowling star of the show for Pakistan, finishing with 6/151 from his mammoth effort of 55.5 overs. It is the second time he has taken six wickets in an innings against the Proteas this year.
Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers extended their record fifth wicket partnership to 338 before the latter was dismissed, making it the fourth best partnership for this wicket of all time. De Villiers finished on 164 (274 balls, 17 fours and a six) while Smith lasted a further four overs before being dismissed for his third highest Test score (234 off 388 balls, 16 fours).
A notable feature at the start of the Pakistan second innings was the fine catch taken by Jacques Kallis to dismiss Khurram Manzoor off the bowling of Philander on the stroke of lunch time. It was his 197th career Test catch, putting him into sole second place on the all-time list ahead of Ricky Ponting. The only player left ahead of him is Rahul Dravid (210).
Pakistan put up more formidable resistance after lunch and lost only one wicket in each of the remaining two sessions.
Misbah-ul-haq and Asad Shafiq had shared an unbroken partnership of 62 in 21.4 overs by the close.
But the Proteas are only a wicket or two away from the Pakistan tail.