South Africa pick up seven wickets for the addition of just 127 runs on the second day
Innings Pakistan 272 (Faheem 78*, Babar 77, Nortje 5-56, Maharaj 3-90) vs South Africa
Anrich Nortje claimed the third five-for of his Test career as South Africa took seven wickets for 127 runs on the second day to dismiss Pakistan for 272 on the second day in Rawalpindi.
Despite what those numbers suggest, though, South Africa didn’t have it all their way. Faheem Ashraf marshalled the Pakistan lower order frustrate the South African attack, which had seen the tail take the game away from them in the Karachi Test. Then, Pakistan’s last four wickets had put on 202. Here, the last five wickets managed just 123, leaving South Africa with much to smile about after their attack was reduced by one. George Linde, the second specialist spinner, bowled just 5.5 overs after suffering a laceration to the little finger of his bowling hand on the first day, when he was in his third over. He returned on the second day to deliver three overs but played a bit role at best. Instead, South Africa relied heavily on Keshav Maharaj, who sent down 45 overs, and Nortje, who used his pace and the short ball to good effect to emulate Dale Steyn, who also took his third career five-for in Pakistan.
Earlier, Nortje made the first breakthrough when he had Babar Azam caught at second slip with the second ball of the day. Azam looked to cut a length ball but got a thick outside edge and Faf du Plessis took the chance at head height. This was the second time Azam had been dismissed without adding to his overnight score in Rawalpindi – he was on 143 against Bangladesh last February when the same thing had happened, and it was also the first time in three Test innings at this venue that the Pakistan captain had not scored a century.
But Azam was not the victim of the most spectacular piece of fielding in the morning session. That was the fate of Fawad Alam, who added three to his first-day 42 before being run-out at the non-striker’s end by a direct hit from Temba Bavuma. Fawad nudged a Kagiso Rabada delivery to the off side, where Bavuma swooped in from point, picked up and threw in one motion and beat Alam’s dive in a scene reminiscent of his run-out of David Warner in 2016. Alam could only nod his head in appreciation of Bavuma’s efforts and walk off.
With two new batsmen, Mohammad Rizwan and Ashraf, at the crease, South Africa looked to apply pressure with their frontline seamers, but Ashraf was confident on the drive and pull and with the second new ball looming, Quinton de Kock turned to Wiaan Mulder and Maharaj. Mulder struggled to make anything happen, suggesting that unless a bowler has express pace or the ability to exploit reverse swing, this surface could be hard work for them.
Linde, meanwhile, left the field in the 23rd over of the first day with a laceration to his left little finger and returned with strapping in the 77th over. He did bowl but went off to get more treatment, and thankfully for the visiting side, they were able to take the second new ball in the 81st over. Rizwan promptly used it to steer Nortje past gully for four but his fun didn’t last. Nortje sent down a short ball in his next over and Rizwan top-edged a pull to Rabada at fine leg.
South Africa would have been happy with that but were left even more pleased when Maharaj, who was given the second new ball when it was less than five overs old, prised out one more. He had Hasan Ali caught at slip with a delivery that turned, bounced and took the shoulder of the bat on its way to Dean Elgar. The wickets did come after that, more or less on cue, but Ashraf ensured the Pakistanis were not out of it.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent