SA lose top four after Nortje five-for restricts Pak

Rawalpindi, Feb 05: Pakistan prised out an overly aggressive South African top four to leave an under-pressure middle order with plenty to do in Rawalpindi. Temba Bavuma, who has not scored a hundred in five years, and Quinton de Kock, who has scored 45 runs in four innings as captain, were at the crease at the close having approached their time in the middle entirely differently.
While Bavuma survived a drop, an lbw review and two appeals for catches, de Kock breezed his way to 24 not out off 11 balls and took on the spinners. Pakistan’s attack will nonetheless be pleased with the pressure they put on a South African line-up that continues to grapple with its approach to batting in the subcontinent, with no-one able yet to convert a start into something more.
Earlier Nortje bowled with menacing pace on a wicket which has eased considerably for batting to bag his third five-wicket haul in his 10th test match.
He claimed two wickets in the first session, including Babar Azam’s off the second ball of the day after Pakistan resumed on 145-3. Azam played a loose cut shot and Faf du Plessis held onto a head-high catch at second slip.
Babar couldn’t add to his overnight 77. He had helped to revive Pakistan innings from 22-3 with Fawad Alam on the first day before rain and a wet outfield wiped out the last session on Thursday.
Alam, who scored 45, fell to Temba Bavuma’s splendid direct throw at the non-striker’s end from short mid-wicket as Alam went for a needless run.
Ashraf then provided the bulk of the scoring and shared a 41-run stand with Mohammad Rizwan (18) before Nortje struck immediately with the second new ball. Nortje tested Rizwan with a short-pitched delivery and the batter’s top-edged pull went straight to Kagiso Rabada’s hands at fine leg before Ashraf raised his fourth half century in his eighth test match.
Ashraf completed his half century off 97 balls with a straight-driven boundary off Rabada just before lunch and two balls later pulled the fast bowler to midwicket for his ninth boundary. Ashraf survived an early lbw TV referral against left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj (3-90), and he also needed brief treatment after Rabada’s short-pitched delivery with the second new ball struck the left-hander’s right arm.
Ashraf showed lot of patience in his more than 3-1/2 hour knock. He prolonged Pakistan’s resistance after lunch, adding 30 runs with Yasir Shah (8) and 21 with Nauman Ali (8) before Nortje claimed the last two wickets in three balls. Pakistan leads the two-match series 1-0 after beating the Proteas in the first test by seven wickets at Karachi. (AP)

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