SA v Pakistan
Proteas hold the upper hand
Morné Morkel (Gallo Images)
Dubai - South Africa held the upper hand in the first Test against Pakistan after paceman Morne Morkel grabbed five wickets and off-spinner Johan Botha took three on the third day at the Dubai Stadium on Sunday.
South Africa reached 139-2 at stumps to increase their overall lead to 271 with eight wickets in hand and a deteriorating pitch which is likely to take spin and have low bounce as the game progresses.
Hashim Amla, with 44, and Jacques Kallis, on 32, were unbeaten at stumps after Morkel (5-54) and Botha (3-61) helped South Africa wrap up Pakistan's first innings on 248, gaining an overall lead of 132.
Kallis and Amla strengthened South Africa's position during their unfinished 63-run stand for the third wicket to pile pressure on their rivals.
South Africa got off to another confident start of 47 before Graeme Smith (34) and Alviro Petersen (26) fell victim to questionable umpiring decisions by Sri Lankan umpire Asoka de Silva.
Petersen fell in the last over before tea, adjudged leg-before to left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman, while Smith was given leg-before when he tried to sweep against Saeed Ajmal's off-spin, but television replays showed the ball missing the off-stump.
Smith, who made 100 in the first innings, also became the second highest scorer for South Africa in all Test cricket, when on 20 he overhauled former opener Gary Kirten's tally of 7289 (101 Tests).
Smith, playing his 87th Test, is behind Kallis who has scored 11199 in 141 Tests before his second knock in this match.
In the morning session South Africa staged a remarkable fightback.
Morkel, who registered his third five-wicket haul in his 27th Test, built on Botha's three wickets in the first session, removing Azhar Ali (56), Rehman (one), Wahab Riaz (five) and Saeed Ajmal (two) with the second new ball.
Ali fought a lone battle, hitting five boundaries during his defiant 172-ball knock.
Morkel said the thinking was to bowl right areas.
"We set high standards as a bowling unit and knew that if we hit the right areas, we will be rewarded with wickets, and that's what happened with me and Botha," said Morkel.
Botha had dismissed Younis Khan (35), skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (nine) and Umar Akmal (four) in 38 balls to derail Pakistan who resumed the day at 144-2.
South Africa piled on the pressure with five close-in fielders to keep the batsmen in check and the tactic paid off as Botha induced Younis to drive uppishly towards short mid-wicket, where AB de Villiers pulled off a diving catch.
Younis, playing his first Test since July last year because of a disciplinary ban, hit three boundaries.
Misbah, leading Pakistan for the first time, also fell victim to close-in fielding when a Botha delivery turned sharply and the ensuing edge was picked off by a diving Amla at short-leg.
Umar played a reckless shot trying to loft Botha over long-off but got a leading edge towards point where Steyn took a simple catch before Morkel destroyed the tail-end.
The second Test starts in Abu Dhabi on November 20.