Saturday, February 16, 2013

Analysis of Day 3 of the 2nd South Africa versus Pakistan Test

Pakistan 338 and 100 for 3 lead South Africa 326 (Peterson 84, de Villiers 61, Ajmal 6-96) by 112 runs

It was akin to being immersed in an Agatha Christie classic with the compelling drama combined with all the twists and turns. 

All the three days of this Test have started with Teams being down and looking like they were about to be carried out. Only to astound and gain respectful awe in the resilience and skill they showed to rise to not only find a way back into the match, but to even challenge for the ascendency. The fact that the match is at a virtual 3 all draw going into the intriguing last two days has shown the blows that have been laid by both but still the two stand even heeled and eye balling each other

Compelling Test Cricket!

In truth, the Pakistanis are in ownership of the destiny of the match with them at 100/3 with a lead of 112 on a pitch that is dead as dead can be and South Africa crucially missing Morne Morkel. Plus with the new ball 41 overs away, it gives Pakistan its best opportunity to firstly make the match safe as well as setting up a viable victory chance to level the series.

The heroes were the TUK TUK Twins of Azhar Ali and Misbah ul Huq, who blocked Pakistan to a position of strength after them teetering on the edge of the abyss at 7/2. Their style of stone walling batting did not endear themselves to many but it was just what Pakistan needed and guided the Team to a position of strength. The only criticism you could make is their inability to accumulate singles to alleviate the pressure they invoked with this style of play. As well as Azhar Ali skewed radar in his placement. On many occasions he got served up a buffet ball to dispatch to the boundary only to see him play a glorious shot straight to the fieldsman.

As for Misbah, you have to love the guy, and attach cult status to him. With him being such a stonewaller but showing on occasion that he has a closet Shahid Afridi buried deep in his batting make up. You saw this against spinner Robin Petersen with him characteristically blocking and then startling us by bringing out the 'BOOM BOOM'. In three huge 6's hit with Afridi's power and on one knee to enjoy his carnage!

Away from Pakistan, you cannot help but offer up the highest of respect to South Africa's fight and resilience. Resuming on 139/5 and still near on 200 runs behind Pakistan's total with Saeed Ajmal on a tear their response underlined why they are number 1. They not only showed this with their resilience, but with their ability to employ subtle variations in their approach to Ajmal to counter him. The fact that Ajmal only took 50/1 in the remainder of the day against South Africa's bottom five underlined their excellence in neutralising him.

The innings of Robin Petersen coming in at 8 shows the Phar Lap type heart that beats in the man. His bowling might be nigh on impotent against any batsman with a clue against spin, but ironically this knock of 84 that he played could be the decisive act of the match.

Ultimately the 4th morning and how Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander go with the old ball against the entrenched Pakistani duo will decide the match. If they can be seen off without any real damage. Then with time on Pakistan's side, you can see them grafting out a lead of over 300 by the end of the days play

Allowing Saeed Ajmal to be let loose on a pitch that will suit him with runs on the board against South Africa's constellation of batting Stars

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