A consummate bowling performance by Pakistan on day one of the first test against South Africa suggested it was capable of challenging the top-ranked team in the world. On Saturday, it was bowled out for 49 and left facing the prospect of a heavy defeat.
Fast bowler Dale Steyn was once again the inspiration for South Africa, taking 6-8 to give the Proteas a first—innings lead of 204. By close on day two South Africa advanced to 207-3 and an overall lead of 411 runs.
Steyn’s figures represented the third cheapest six-wicket haul in the history of the five-day game, and only Jermaine Lawson of West Indies, who took 6-3 against Bangladesh in 2002, has claimed a cheaper six-wicket haul than Steyn in the last 89 years.
The No. 1 bowler in the world produced two blistering spells of outswing, taking three wickets in each as Pakistan’s batsmen were unable to match his quality on a helpful pitch.
“I’ve never seen two hours of relentless pace bowling as I’ve witnessed today,” Pakistan’s well-traveled coach, Dav Whatmore, said. “Most of our batsmen got out to terrific balls. I’m very disappointed with the result, but there are reasons for that and you need to give credit to the South African bowlers.”
“It’s kind of expected of your fast bowlers to clean up the tail, but I was pretty stoked with the first three early because I haven’t done that in a while,” Steyn said.
With the match barely into its fifth session, South Africa captain Graeme Smith opted not to enforce the follow-on, and instead looked to add to the home side’s considerable lead.
“There wasn’t a lot of talk about enforcing the follow-on because all they needed to do was score 50, but I think we made the right decision to bat them out of the game and make a big score,” Steyn said.
In his 100th test as captain, Smith scored 52 in the second innings, before Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers went to stumps unbeaten on 50 and 63 respectively.
In bowling South Africa out for 253 on Friday, Pakistan had given the impression that it could duel with the very best. However, that notion disappeared quickly as Pakistan crumbled from 6 without loss to 40—7 on the second morning.
It was Steyn who turned the tide when he had Pakistan opener Mohammad Hafeez caught behind in the second over of the day, then dismissed both Nasir Jamshed and Younis Khan in the fourth.
Misbah—ul—Haq and Azhar Ali dug in for Pakistan and saw out 13 testing overs, but Jacques Kallis ended the stand with a brutal bouncer that caught Ali’s glove on its way through to wicketkeeper AB de Villiers.
With the floodgates once again open, Kallis found the edge of Misbah’s bat in his next over, before Vernon Philander had Asad Shafiq and Umar Gul caught by the wicketkeeper and first slip in quick succession.
Steyn returned after the lunch break to mop up the tail in 13 deliveries, and ensure that Ali’s 13 was Pakistan’s top score for the innings.
It’s the third time in 14 months South Africa has dismissed a visiting side in the 40s; bowling out Australia for 47 in November 2011, and New Zealand for 45 on Jan. 2, both in Cape Town.
In a match dominated by the bowlers, South Africa discovered the benefits of batting more positively in the second innings, and maintained a rate of around four runs per over.
Pakistan’s discipline with the ball, which had been so evident on the first day, evaporated in the face of South African aggression.
Although the tourists had South Africa 99-3 after Umar Gul dismissed the openers and Jacques Kallis threwn his wicket away with a rash shot, Pakistan was unable to build any meaningful pressure as the pitch flattened out.
That left South Africa in place to record another convincing victory, having already beaten New Zealand by an innings twice during its home season.
“When this team puts its forces together it’s a pretty tough team to beat and pretty tough team to come up against,” Steyn said. “There are some great individuals in the team who all offer different skills.”