Spinners give Proteas hope

Sat, 06th February 2021
Keshav Maharaj of South Africa

Keshav Maharaj of South Africa

Spinners George Linde and Keshav Maharaj shared five wickets to keep the Proteas alive after the third day of the second Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi on Saturday.


South Africa’s twin slow-armers helped the tourists reduce their hosts to 129 for six by stumps, a lead of exactly 200 on a day when 12 wickets went down.


Six of those belonged to the visitors as their middle and lower order were again exposed when they were dismissed for a below-par 201, an innings difference of 71.


Only Temba Bavuma walked away with his head held up high after he was left stranded unbeaten on 44.


Mark Boucher’s side then needed to dig deep in order to have a chance of victory, with Linde’s three for 12 in nine overs, five of which were maidens, doing precisely that. Maharaj chipped in with two for 74 meaning the game was still hanging by the balance heading in day four on Sunday.


The South Africans started the morning on 106 for four, but lost their captain within the first 15 deliveries after he attempted to play a loose drive off Shaheen Shah Afridi (1/37) ricocheted onto the stumps.


Wiaan Mulder showed some fight with a battling 33 in a 50-run sixth-wicket partnership alongside Bavuma that took the total to 164 for five.


But he was needlessly run-out looking for a second run gifting the Pakistanis a desperate breakthrough.


Linde did at least help Bavuma get the total beyond 200 with a run-a-ball 21, but Hasan Ali’s precision in between was helping his side chip away – the fast bowler mopping up the tail with figures of five for 54 that left the away side all out in 65.4 overs.


A disciplined start with the ball by the Proteas put the home side under pressure and Imran Butt felt the heat when he was trapped leg before wicket by Kagiso Rabada without scoring.


More tight bowling kept the intensity on and Abid Ali (13) was next to go with the score on 28.


Pakistan captain Babar Azam (8) then departed to Maharaj for the third time in three innings, with Linde’s double strike of Azhar Ali (33) and Fawad Alam (12) threatening a major turnaround to the Test match after the home side slumped to 76 for five.


However, Mohammad Rizwan (28 not out) and Faheem Ashraf (29) opted to be more aggressive during a 52-run sixth-wicket stand that frustrated the away side, until Linde ended it on the stroke of stumps.