While Steyn made early inroads, Tahir finished the session with wickets of skipper Misbah-ul-haq and Adnan Akmal in the unfinished over before lunch. Pakistan lost three wickets in a span of six deliveries towards the end.
Steyn whose participation was under cloud due to fitness issues turned out to be the key bowler for South Africa early. Bowling with his usual sense of aggression, Steyn struck in the second ball of the match removing centurion from previous Test Khurram Manzoor.
The cautious approach by Pakistan didn’t help much as the bowler’s dominated the batsmen throughout the session.
Steyn maintained a fullish length while skipper Graeme Smith experimented with his bowler from the other end. Starting with Vernon Philander, Smith brought in Morne Morkel very early and got Tahir from Steyn’s end. With a fast-spin combination being persisted for a few over, Morkel finally struck with the wicket of Azhar Ali. An angling delivery coming in to Ali, hit him on the pads. Though the batsman called for a review, replays showed it was clipping leg stump.
With his shrewd captaincy, Smith rested Morkel and brought back Steyn from the other end he started the bowling with. Until then, seasoned campaigner Younis Khan and Shan Masood had accumulated a few runs. Tahir finally got the lucky breakthrough when he Masood went for an expansive drive to a ball coming in to him. The inside edge rolled on to his stumps.
With two senior players Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis, Pakistan would have hoped to script a gritty recovery. However, Younis fell soon as he went for a half-hearted push against Steyn’s delivery pitched wide on the off and nicked it to the keeper.
With lunch around the corner, Tahir struck a crucial blow by bagging the wicket of skipper Misbah with a well disguised googly. Misbah played across the line and was out leg before. Even the remaining decision review didn’t help.
That wasn’t the end of the agonising session for Pakistan. Adnan Akmal cramped himself to delivery which was skidding into him. With his stumps disturbed, umpires decided to take lunch as Pakistan struggled to stay afloat.
Electing to field on a dry wicket, Smith got leg-spinner Tahir in place of Robin Peterson — a decision which was spot-on. He also got Dean Elgar in place of Hashim Amla.
It was a disciplined performance from the Proteas bowling combined with a tentative approach adopted by the Pakistan batsmen. It will be a gigantic task
Pakistan 60 for 6 (Shan Masood 21; Imran Tahir 3 for 13; Dale Steyn 2 for 14) vs South Africa.