Ali, Misbah steady Pakistan in tense second test

Capte Town Test

A typically belligerent stand between Azhar Ali and Misbah-ul-Haq in a frenetic third day hauled Pakistan back into the second test after South Africa owned the majority of Saturday at Newlands.

The pair took Pakistan to stumps on 100-3, which represented an overall lead of 112 after South Africa extended its first innings to 326 all out with some aggressive batting from the lower order.

Misbah was unbeaten on 36, while Ali was fortunate to be 45 not out after seeing Robin Peterson put down a return catch, and then umpire Steve Davis turn down an appeal for caught behind when replays suggested Ali edged a Vernon Philander delivery late in the day.

The unbroken 55-run partnership came in more than 28 overs, as the pair patiently rebuilt the innings following another Pakistan top-order collapse to leave the match intriguingly placed with two days remaining.

``I think it's pretty evenly poised at the moment,'' Peterson said. ``I don't think you want to be chasing anything over 300 here, and hopefully we won't need anything more than 250.''

Pakistan's conservatism in the third session was in contrast to the manner in which South Africa went about its business in the first two.

Pakistan would have harbored hopes of a much bigger first-innings lead given that it had South Africa 139-5 overnight, but the Proteas' decision to adopt a more positive approach on day three paid dividends.

Although the hosts lost a few wickets in taking the attack to the bowlers, they also scored 187 runs in 42 overs to reclaim the initiative, with Peterson hitting a career-best 84 from just 106 deliveries.

AB de Villiers' breezy 61 was the other highlight of the innings, but the two batsmen found plenty of support from the lower order as the last five wickets of the innings brought 217 runs.

... contd.

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