Pakistan, for all their pluck, were unable to survive the day at Newlands on Saturday, leaving South Africa with just 41 runs to knock off on Sunday’s fourth morning for victory in the second Test and the series. Much like the famous reality television show set on exotic islands, the Proteas were able to outlast their opposition on a day of proper competitive Test cricket.
With Shan Masood (61), Asad Shafiq (88) and Babar Azam (72) all scoring half-centuries, South Africa had to deliver 70.4 overs in order to finally bowl Pakistan out at three minutes past six pm.
As bowling spearhead Kagiso Rabada said afterwards, it was all about resilience, once again, for the Proteas.
“It felt like once the ball got a bit older and softer then it became much harder for the bowlers; there wasn’t much movement. And Pakistan came out aggressively, so credit to them. We had to show resilience, but that’s Test cricket. At stages you have to show resilience; then you get the reward and then the floodgates open.
“It was a toiling day, but it wouldn’t be Test cricket if it was too easy. We don’t take anything for granted, you just always have to find a way. We needed to outlast them; we couldn’t buckle; you wait for the breakthrough and, once you get it, then the wickets come. It was a very hard pitch for the batsmen to get in on, and Faf [du Plessis, the captain] kept reminding us of that,” said Rabada, who was once again superbly consistent in taking four for 61 in 16.4 overs.
A sizeable crowd were disappointed that South Africa did not try to knock off the 41 runs to win in the 17 minutes that play would have been extended for on the third evening, but patrons are apparently going to be given free entrance into Newlands on Sunday to watch, barring a miracle, the series win being clinched.
Cricket’s laws, conventions and regulations are wonderfully enigmatic but a Vernon Philander no-ball, when he had Mohammad Abbas caught off a skier when the lead was a paltry 24 and 15 minutes before the innings eventually ended, was actually what prevented the Test from finishing on Saturday. In a bizarre ending, several of the players had already left the field when replays showed the seamer had over-stepped, causing the umpires to hastily recall the combatants.
“I haven’t seen something like that ever happen before. We were in a rush to wrap things up and Dale Steyn was bowling off a quarter run-up. It was all very dramatic, and then we decided not to bat after all. The captain and coach made the decision. They felt it wasn’t worth it trying to chase 40 in five overs. So we’ll come back tomorrow and knock it off. Hopefully I’m done for this Test,” Rabada explained after more than doing his job.