Welcome to the live blog coverage of day three of the first Test between Pakistan and South Africa in Karachi. Please refresh the page to get latest updates about the cricket action in the middle. Follow live ball-by-ball score here.
Rassie van der Dussen and Aiden Markram were batting so smoothly for South Africa as they first wiped out the deficit and began adding runs to their lead. The fluency of their magisterial shots eventually snapped in the face of Yasir Shah and Nauman Ali's masterful display. Pakistan's trademark livewire attitude sprang into action as they went bang, bang in the final 40-45 minutes on day three. Each tossed up delivery and each edge was followed by energetic chants as South Africa fell down the abyss.
They are still not completely outclassed despite being effectively 29/4 at stumps. A substantial contribution from Quinton de Kock and the lower-order could propel them towards a 150+ lead and Pakistan could find themselves chasing an extremely difficult target. You don't have to jog your memory too far to point out instances of Pakistan's fourth-innings collapses in small chases as an Ajaz Patel-inspired New Zealand defeated them by four runs in 2018 whilst pursuing 176. Similarly, they could not make 136 to win in Abu Dhabi against Sri Lanka in 2017.
This contest has surely been a riveting one for neutral fans. The momentum has oscillated rapidly between the two camps across all three days, though the hosts have a slight advantage now.
Everything is turning Pakistan's way!
Yasir Shah gets his man Faf du Plessis with a peach of a delivery! Three balls later, Nauman Ali gets the settled Aiden Markram, who is livid with himself. Du Plessis had shown an inclination to play Yasir on the backfoot in a bid to judge the spin but this tactic is never considered to be a wise choice. He misses the ball pushed flatter by Yasir and is out lbw. No review from the 36-year-old as he knows this is far more adjacent than the previous erroneous decision. Yasir is pumped up with the development and so are the Pakistan fielders, who have rediscovered their enthusiasm in the past half hour.
Markram is undone by the extra bounce generated by debutant Nauman. 304 minutes of immense concentration are sullied by the persistence of Nauman, who is helped by the unpredictable nature of the pitch. Markram does everything right, makes the forward press, presents the full face of the bat to defend the ball but it is a game of mere inches and he is caught by the vigilant Abid Ali. This is the second catch for him in the close in fielding position and South Africa's resilience wilts away in the dying moments of day three.
Faf du Plessis is living dangerously
The former South Africa skipper first survives on reviewing the lbw verdict and is then dropped by Babar Azam in the slip – both chances occur off the bowling of destroyer in chief Yasir Shah. In the 68th over, Yasir spins the ball extravagantly to beat the bat of du Plessis and rap him on the pad in front of the off-stump. Du Plessis immediately reviews and the ball just pitches outside leg, saving South Africa from embarrassment.
In the 72nd over, du Plessis is caught in two minds against the vastly turning delivery. It's a length ball that du Plessis shapes up to play on the backfoot but withdraws from the shot when he sees it going too wide of off-stump. The senior pro's bat is still not fully away from the line of the ball and tickles the edge as for the second time in the day, Babar Azam floors a catch. The ball dribbles to the boundary fence.
Finally a breakthrough!
Yes indeed, it's that man – the Lionel Messi-lookalike who has a knack of scalping crucial wickets when Pakistan find themselves in a spot of bother. Yasir Shah tosses up a juicy leg-break that bamboozles van der Dussen in the flight and the batsman pushes at it only to direct it to silly mid-off. Abid Ali gobbles up the chance offered and Pakistan are elated to strike after 51 long overs.
Van der Dussen's remarkable vigil is cut short but it has been a significant improvement from his first-innings dismissal where he gifted his wicket via a run-out despite looking good for the little amount of time he was present in the middle.
Gritty half-century for Rassie van der Dussen
Incredible effort from the 31-year-old to resist Pakistan's fierce charge and bring up a personal milestone. He creams the ball down the ground off the bowling of Hasan Ali for a couple to get to the 50-run mark and meekly celebrates the moment. On the very next ball, van der Dussen utilises lightning quick wristwork to blast a gorgeous boundary through the square leg region. Pakistan are feeling the heat of the duo's steadily increasing partnership.
The dramatic see-sawing pattern of this Test match is kept intact as South Africa achieve parity and now set about building on their minimal lead. The immaculate application at the crease by Markram and van der Dussen is a tremendous feat in the circumstances and the context of failures in Asia for the Proteas batsmen.
South Africa get a move on post-tea
The tourists have bounced back superbly with Markram and van der Dussen shifting gears after the tea interval. In the first 10 overs of the third session, South Africa have scored at a rate of 4 runs an over – an alarming change given the fact they were crawling at 2 runs an over before the acceleration.
Markram makes his first fifty in the subcontinent and is sweetly driving all fuller length deliveries from the pacers. One recalls how Markram was praised by Virat Kohli almost three years back when he was dominating bowling attacks in the nascent stage of his career. Since then, a slump has negatively affected his form but he has been temperamentally sound today to pace his innings splendidly.
Markram and van der Dussen mean business with their commendable levels of concentration and restraint. The plan to bat long and make the opposition toil for a breakthrough looks to be working for now. The mercurial pitch continues to throw surprises regularly but the two batsmen are trusting their defensive game to firmly block out any shortcoming that Pakistan can exploit.
A gripping tussle between the two sides serves as a prelude to the final session where things may get tougher for the batsmen. South Africa's strategy will be to cause fatigue and frustration among the Pakistan bowlers, though the intimidating Yasir has not shown any signs of relenting his attack. South Africa are 74 runs away from entering lead territory.
Pressure, pressure and then dropped!
Markram has had enough of the abundance of dots plaguing South Africa of late and decides to go for a flashy drive off Yasir. The ball gets a healthy edge and flies to the right of Babar at slip. The Pakistan captain does go for it but the ball plunges downwards and he cannot get the timing of his dive right and gets one hand to it. It could have been a key breakthrough for Pakistan had Babar held on as Markram's record against spin is exceptional. How costly will this miss be?
A cacophony of 'oohs' and 'aahs'
Yasir Shah is producing some nervy moments and keeping the batsmen on their toes with his pace and length variations. He seems to be on song here but van der Dussen and Markram are upping their game of patience. The fielders have surrounded the duo like famished predators with each delivery attracting a reaction of sorts. Only 5 runs scored in the last 10 overs as the two dig in.
Pakistan burn a review
Ordinary decision-making by Pakistan as an excited Shaheen convinces his captain to go for the review against Markram. Another good-length delivery keeping low, not letting the batsman get his bat down in time as it flicks his pad. The ball was swinging in to a great extent and hawkeye confirms it was travelling away from the leg-stump. Pakistan are now consigned to two reviews for the rest of the innings.
Superman Rizwan grabs a stunner!
Elgar was looking uneasy out there ever since he was felled by the rising Shaheen delivery. He is now gone while attempting a sweep shot off Yasir, who turns the ball from the rough patches to catch the bottom edge. The ball barely lobs into the air as a result of a deflection from Elgar's pad and Rizwan is onto it in a flash, diving forward full-length to complete a terrific catch. He has once again startled everyone with amazing fielding after pulling off a brilliant run-out of Rassie van der Dussen in the first innings. Is he the best glovesman going around these days?
Dean Elgar cops a nasty blow
The unpredictable surface continues to play tricks as Shaheen's delivery violently spits off the surface to rap the glove of Elgar. The ball balloons in the air after popping Elgar's hand but falls safely luckily for South Africa. However, the scenes that ensue subsequently are not too pretty for the visitors as the physio dashes onto the field with the magic spray.
Elgar's finger is intensely swollen but he agrees to battle on. Later, he winces in pain after connecting a couple of scrumptious drives and requires the assistance of the physio again. South Africa will be concerned by the injury to their star player.
Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram make decent progress for the Proteas after embracing the stiff challenge of eating away into Pakistan's first-innings lead. It has not been easy for the two as variable bounce has threatened to disrupt the duo's composure but they have stuck to their task nicely to take South Africa to lunch feeling pleasant about their resistance.
Markram survived a major scare in the third over of the innings when umpire Ahsan Raza raised his finger in response to a Shaheen Afridi appeal for lbw. The short-length delivery had kept low but replays showed it was pitching way outside the leg-stump giving Markram a breather. Interestingly, Pakistan were a bit circumspect to continue with Shaheen, who bowled only three overs with the new ball as Nauman Ali was introduced early into the fray. A misfield by Azhar Ali in the penultimate over before lunch further helped South Africa's cause by earning them a boundary.
South Africa have started tentatively in their second innings. Markram (16*) and Elgar (18*) are still unbeaten at the crease going into lunch. The visitors trail by 121 runs in Karachi— Cricingif (@_cricingif) January 28, 2021
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Pakistan will need to come out sharp in the second session and rethink their bowling plans in a bid to dislodge this pair and make inroads into South Africa's power-packed batting order. Yasir Shah will definitely have a role to play as the day lingers on.
All out but a massive lead for Pakistan
South Africa's undisciplined bowling today has leaked a lot of runs – 70 scored in 12.2 overs in the first hour. Nauman Ali is the last batsman to get out as Keshav Maharaj finishes with figures of 3/90. The quicker ball deceives the left-hander and he is caught plumb in front of the stumps. Nauman's maiden Test outing adds crucial runs to Pakistan's total as he is involved in a breezy 55-run stand for the last wicket. He unsuccessfully tries to overturn the decision on review but the ball is crashing into the stumps.
Yasir's boundary-laden charge irks South Africa
This is carnage in the middle as Yasir Shah is launching an assault of ravishing drives and perfectly executed aerial shots. South Africa's bowlers are left clueless and shell-shocked at the surprising display of power-hitting from Yasir, whose No. 11 batting position perhaps does not do justice to his record in the red-ball format.
He first slams a couple of textbook drives off Rabada to hurt the opposition and delivers the killer blow with an outstanding heave off Maharaj to signal utter supremacy over the South Africa bowlers. These are indeed handy runs as he blazes away at a strike rate in excess of 100. Nauman is giving him solid company too, providing the bowlers no weak spot to target.
Runs flowing, stumps rattled
Hasan Ali and Nauman Ali were quick off the blocks to get Pakistan's lead over 100. A comforting cushion for the hosts as South Africa will naturally be on the backfoot surmounting a sizeable lead in their second innings. Hasan hit eight runs in the first over of the day bowled by Anrich Nortje but perished to a bizarre slog attempted off Kagiso Rabada.
The ace South Africa paceman demolishes the stumps and becomes the fourth-youngest bowler to take 200 Test wickets. In terms of deliveries, he is the third-fastest to the landmark after Waqar Younis and Dale Steyn. What a fine effort from the young man and he has been quite clearly the standout pacer across both sides in this Test match. Bustling in at full throttle, Rabada's admirable stamina and resolve have not diminished as he has continued to attack the stumps with constant zest.
Build up to Day 3
Good morning everyone! After being beaten to the depths of despair at the end of day one, Pakistan have dramatically wrested back control of the game. The dominant character featuring in Pakistan's stirring rise in the first innings has been the inspirational Fawad Alam. 11 years of not being considered good enough to reenter the Test side have paved the way for a sensational hundred at home for Fawad.
Questions will forever be posed to the PCB about how such a highly talented player was ignored due to the whims of certain people, who fretted over the inefficacy of Fawad's unorthodox technique. But for now, the star of Pakistan's innings is not perturbed by past regrets and has made peace with his fate. His success is often deemed as the true embodiment of middle class struggle – a determined individual never giving up despite being unrewarded by a flawed system. But his time comes and he shines ever so brightly to silence his detractors.
South Africa's bowlers need to wrap up this innings swiftly in order to gain the upper hand on proceedings today. They will have to be wary of not repeating the mistakes committed in the first innings once their batting commences today.
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