Pakistan avoid innings defeat, delay South Africa victory charge

Cape Town (AFP) –


Although Pakistan are facing a heavy defeat, their fightback on the third day of the second Test against South Africa was a good sign for the team, batsman Asad Shafiq said on Saturday.

Half-centuries by Shafiq, Shan Masood and Babar Azam enabled Pakistan to take the match into a fourth day.

Pakistan were bowled out in the last over for 294, leaving South Africa needing 41 runs to win the match and the three-match series.

A provision for an extra half hour was not used because only 20 minutes or five overs of play would have been possible.

"Trying to get 41 runs in five overs was not worth it," said South African fast bowler Kagiso Rabada.

Masood hit a composed 61 and Shafiq and Azam both played aggressively to score 88 and 72 respectively.

Masood and Shafiq shared the most enterprising partnership of the match when they put on 132 in 132 minutes off 168 balls for the third wicket.

Shafiq said a positive mindset was the key to Pakistan's best day of the series.

"If you get in you get good value for your shots. The ball was coming on to the bat and the outfield is fast," he said.

"I had to see off the first 20 or 25 balls but then I decided if the ball was in my zone I would play my shots."

Shafiq played some powerful drives, cuts and pull shots as he came within 12 runs of a second century in successive Test matches at Newlands. He made 111 in the 2012/13 meeting of the two countries at the ground.

He reached his fifty off 56 balls and went on to face 118 deliveries, hitting 12 fours and a six.

Although Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur criticised the quality of the pitch on Friday, Shafiq said: "It was a bit easier today and the ball was not coming off the cracks so much."

Rabada and Dale Steyn both took four wickets to get South Africa to the brink of victory.

Steyn, who took four for 85, drew level with Richard Hadlee of New Zealand in tenth place on 431 wickets on the all-time Test list.

"Once the ball got a bit old and a bit soft it was harder to bowl and batting looked a bit easier," said Rabada, who took four for 61.

"There was not much lateral movement and not much in the air. The Pakistan batsmen came out aggressive and they played well. We had to show resilience."

With the prospect of ending the match in three days, Rabada admitted that South Africa "rushed" in what became a hectic last half hour.

Two catches went down in the deep, with the ball swirling in a brisk wind, and what seemed to be the last wicket was disallowed when a replay showed Vernon Philander had bowled a no-ball.

If he had not over-stepped, South Africa would have needed only 25 to win with a potential 28 minutes of batting.

Shaheen Afridi was hit on the head by Steyn but slogged a quick 14 before he played one big shot too many to be caught at midwicket off Rabada.

Rabada defended the pitches on which South Africa have played recent home series.

"The pitches have done quite a bit but when the batsmen have applied themselves they have done well, right through from the India and Australia series (last season). It shouldn't be easy to score runs in Test cricket."