When the teams took lunch on the fourth day of the first Test at Abu Dhabi, Pakistan were closing in on an innings victory over South Africa who were down to 130 for six.
Continuing from an overnight score of 72 for four, South Africa lost their way further as nightwatchman Dale Steyn couldn’t last too long. Steyn came down the wicket to a delivery from Zulfiqar Babar but did not go for a big shot. He attempted a gentle forward prod and missed it completely. The ball went through the gap and crashed onto his stumps to give Pakistan their first wicket of the day.
The first innings half-centurion, JP Duminy was sent back for a duck by Junaid Khan who trapped the southpaw plumb in front of the stumps. Duminy failed to negotiate the inswing that Junaid got on the ball and was struck in line. The batsmen thought long and hard about a review but Duminy decided to walk back. At this stage, South Africa were reduced to 109 for six, still trailing Pakistan’s total by 84 runs.
Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers were at the middle in a familiar position that they faced at Adelaide against Australia in 2012. De Villiers, who was at the non-striker’s end when the Proteas lost the two wickets on the fourth day morning, eased some nerves by getting to his half-century with a six over the bowler’s head off Babar.
The last time these two came together in such a precarious position, they dug in and held fort for as many as 68 overs to eke out a draw. When play resumes after lunch, the South African dressing room will hope for a repeat performance from them.
South Africa 249 (Hashim Amla 118, JP Duminy 57; Mohammad Irfan 3 for 44) and 130 for 6 (AB de Villiers 52*; Zulfiqar Babar 2 for 16) trail Pakistan 442 (Khurram Manzoor 146, Shan Masood 75, Misbah-ul-Haq 100, Asad Shafiq 54; Vernon Philander 3 for 84, Dale Steyn 3 for 88) by 63 runs.