Pakistan’s bowlers staged a remarkable turnaround as South Africa were bowled out for 262 on the first day of the third and final Test at the Wanderers Stadium on Friday.
South Africa seemed in control when they reached 226 for three at tea on the best batting pitch of a series they have already clinched by winning the first two Tests.
But seven wickets fell for 36 runs in 19.4 overs after tea, with the wickets shared between Pakistan’s four seamers.
Mohammad Amir finished with two for 36, Mohammad Abbas took two for 44, Hasan Ali took two for 75 and Faheem Ashraf claimed three for 57.
Earlier, Aiden Markram’s polished innings of 90 put South Africa on the front foot. Markram, who had to pass a fitness test after suffering a badly bruised right thigh while fielding in the second Test in Cape Town, looked set for his fifth Test century until he glanced a ball from medium-paced all-rounder Faheem Ashraf and wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed plucked a good catch, diving to his left.
Markram hit 16 boundaries off 124 balls in an innings marked by crisply-struck drives and firm clips to leg. It was the third time in his 15-Test career that he had been dismissed in the nineties.
Hashim Amla (41) helped Markram put on 132 for the second wicket after stand-in captain Dean Elgar was caught behind off Mohammad Abbas for five in the second over.
Theunis de Bruyn (48 not out) and new cap Zubayr Hamza (38 not out) both batted brightly in a fourth wicket stand which was worth 72 off 92 balls at tea.
South Africa’s stand-in captain Dean Elgar lost his wicket soon after he won the toss and decided to bat.
Pakistan didn’t capitalize on an early breakthrough, leaving South Africa to progress to 108-1 at lunch.
Although South Africa clinched the series by winning the first two matches, stand-in captain Dean Elgar said: “It is still a big game for us. It is definitely not a dead rubber game.”
Elgar is captaining in place of Faf du Plessis, who is serving a one-match ban for slow over rate offenses in the first two tests. Debutant batsman Zubayr Hamza replaced du Plessis in the squad.
He said the pitch at Wanderers Stadium looked “really good” with Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed saying it would help the batsmen.
South Africa surprisingly stayed with an all-pace attack although the surface looked drier than usual for the Wanderers despite having a reasonable covering of grass.
Suspended regular captain Faf du Plessis and became South Africa’s 100th Test cap since the country returned to international cricket in 1991.
Pakistan has made some changes to the squad, with Faheem Ashraf and Shadab replacing Fakhar Zaman and Yasir Shah. Shaheen Afridi has also been replaced by Hasan Ali, who sat out the second Test.
The inclusion of those three gave captain Sarfraz Ahmed five bowling options along with front-line fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Abbas.
Sarfraz used all five of them in the first session of the match, with Abbas the only one to have any success when he beat Elgar early on and had the opener out for 5, caught behind off an outside edge.
Dean Elgar (captain), Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Zubayr Hamza, Quinton de Kock (wicketkeeper), Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Duanne Olivier
Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed (captain/wicketkeeper), Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali