AB ton heaps the pressure on Pakistan
AB de Villiers scored a quick 103* to help South Africa set Pakistan a target of 480 on Day 3 of the first Test at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.
de Villiers started the day on 63* with South Africa on 207/3 in their second innings, their lead at 411. Amla and AB had added an unbeaten 108 for the 4th wicket the previous day and the duo added just another 68 runs to the total before Graeme Smith declared with SA on 275/3 in their second innings.
Pakistan’s bowlers had done a good job of bowling SA out for 253 on Day 1 of the Test, Graeme Smith’s 100th as Test captain. Jacques Kallis top scored for SA with 50, the rest of the top order all guilty of throwing away their starts. Mohammad Hafeez had figures of 4/16 to help wrap up the innings after Pakistan’s pacers made the inroads.
But it was the Dale Steyn show on Day 2 that turned the match. He took figures of 6/8, the third best six wicket haul in a Test innings, blowing Pakistan away for 49, their lowest ever total in Tests. It was 5 short of the follow-on mark and gave SA a massive lead of 204. Azhar Ali (13) and Misbah ul Haq (12) were the only batsmen to reach double figures. Pakistan’s batsmen were mostly caught stuck at the crease, poking, prodding and pushing unconvincingly at the prodigious swing that Steyn and Co produced: 6 catches went straight behind to AB de Villiers, Smith held two at first slip, Faf du Plessis got one at fourth slip and 1 wicket fell LBW to Steyn.
Sensing the pitch wasn’t as lethal as it seemed, Smith chose not to enforce the follow on. He set about proving his hunch right, scoring 52 out of a quick 82 run opening partnership with Alviro Peterson (27). Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal struck in quick succession to reduce SA to 99/3 from there but Amla and de Villiers wrested control again with their partnership.
All the shots came out as the two tried to lock the game for SA, bringing up a 50 run partnership off just 59b and 100 off just 141b. AB’s fifty came off 63b and Amla’s fifty came just before Stumps on Day 2.
The two added 68 off just 10 overs on Day 3, AB slamming 5 fours and Amla hitting 3 fours as SA extended the lead. de Villiers creamed a boundary to bring up his 15th Test hundred. Smith declared with SA on 275/3, Amla on 74* (114b, 4x7) and de Villiers on 103* (117b, 11x4), 279 ahead of Pakistan just 10 overs into Day 3.