Proteas have a mountain to climb

Abu Dhabi – The Proteas have left themselves with a mountain to climb to save the first test match against Pakistan at Abu Dhabi after their opponents put in another dominant performance on the third day.

At the close, the Proteas were 72/4 in their second innings, still needing another 121 runs to wipe out their first-innings deficit of 193.

The four wickets included the key ones of Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis, who all have a proven record of batting long periods under enormous pressure.

The four Pakistan bowlers took one wicket each as the Proteas continued to be outplayed in both the key disciplines of batting and bowling.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq scored his fourth test century (100 off 187 balls, 8 fours) and his first against South Africa when his side resumed on the third morning. His stands of 112 with fellow centurion Khurram Manzoor (146 off 266 balls, 15 fours) and 82 with Asad Shafiq (54 off 105 balls, 6 fours) enabled Pakistan to consolidate their overall lead.

Khurram’s innings was the highest for Pakistan against South Africa, beating the 136 that Azhar Mahmood scored at the Wanderers in 1998.

Although the Proteas hit back in the last two sessions to take the last five Pakistan wickets for 48 runs, they could not stop their opponents from scoring 179/7 on the day to stretch their lead to very significant proportions.

Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander took three wickets each to wrap up the tail – Steyn also contributed a direct hit run-out – as they managed to obtain some reverse swing in the closing overs.

The Proteas made a reasonably confident start to their second innings as Smith and Alviro Petersen scored 35 runs in the first 10 overs, but they then had a disastrous spell, losing 4/34 in 15 overs as Saeed Ajmal, in particular, strangled the flow of runs.

Having Smith stumped earned him his 150th wicket in only his 29th test match, to put him joint fourth quickest on the all-time list, alongside Steyn among others.

The only spinner to have achieved this mark quicker is the legendary New Zealand-born Australian leg-spinner Clarrie Grimmett.

The second and final test will be played in Dubai from October 23. The teams will also play five one-day and two Twenty20 internationals.

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