Pakistan vs South Africa, 1st Test, Day 4: How it unfolded
Welcome to the live blog coverage of day four 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.
Fairytale finish for Fawad and Pakistan win by 7 wickets!
Fawad Alam expertly hangs back for the short ball from Maharaj and carves it through the off-side for a sumptuous boundary that earns Pakistan a thumping triumph. What a befitting way for Fawad to conclude proceedings in the first Test to add on to his sensational hundred on Wednesday.
The expansive margin of victory flatters Pakistan's standing in the game but they faced grave issues of a first-innings top-order collapse and a lack of bite from the bowlers for some part of the second innings. However, South Africa were not able to sustain the pressure for long and stellar individual performances from Fawad Alam, Yasir Shah, Nauman Ali and even Faheem Ashraf powered them to an exceptional win.
Babar Azam begins his Test captaincy stint with a convincing victory, which will give him and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq huge confidence. A string of losses and disappointing results preceded this series and Pakistan manage to extend their unblemished record at home following the return of Test cricket in familiar conditions.
Babar dismissed on the cusp of series lead
For the second time in the match, Keshav Maharaj gets the better of the Pakistan captain. It has been a fluent drives-loaded from the 26-year-old but he is outfoxed by a brilliant ball from the left-arm spinner that turns and beats his bat. The ball thuds into Babar's back leg and is given out by the umpire. Unsurprisingly, Babar goes for the review as Pakistan are just two runs from the finishing line. Hawkeye shows three reds as Fawad Alam walks out to the middle. It's been a colourful innings for Babar, nonetheless, allowing Pakistan to breathe a sigh of relief.
Glorious drives from Babar Azam
This is magical from the ever-sublime Babar Azam. Assertive, authoritative and dreamlike stuff from Pakistan's premier all-format batsman. This is why he is rated so highly by the so many esteemed figures in the cricket community. This is why you are glued to the TV screen whenever he is batting out there.
All three pacers feel the wrath of Babar's cosmic class. Rabada is dispatched by a flawless use of the wrists towards the square leg boundary as there is minimum force required by Babar to dismiss it from his presence. Nortje is at the receiving end of Babar's trademark caress through the off-side region as he firmly plants his front foot forward and times the ball to perfection. His outstanding shot off Ngidi's length delivery is another ingenious stroke meant for the highlights reels. He stands tall and merely punches it off the backfoot to slam four more runs.
Nortje strikes twice after the break!
Well, well, is there a twist in the tale? Anrich Nortje has immediately found success in the first over after lunch. Abid Ali is the first batsman to fall as he chops the ball onto the stumps. The delivery keeps low and Abid's jab towards the off-side is futile as the ball flicks his inside edge.
Nortje then snares the scalp of Imran, who is guilty of a loose shot and gets a healthy edge through to the keeper. Ordinary shot from the young man after impressing briefly during his pre-lunch stay at the crease. South Africa celebrate vociferously as they aspire to trigger one of those spectacular Pakistan fourth-innings collapses.
Pakistan go to lunch on the verge of victory
Imran Butt signals the lunch break with the shot of the day. Classic straight drive off a frustrated Kagiso Rabada as the ball clatters the boundary cushion. Pakistan seem to be knocking off the paltry target with boundaries as five fours have already been hit in a total of 22/0. There is still the odd ball staying low after pounding the surface but there is no pressure on Pakistan to be worried about the task at hand.
Six South Africa wickets fell in the first session, handing Pakistan utter control of the match. Nauman Ali and Yasir Shah are the heroes for the hosts and they have been assisted by smart work by the close in fielders.
Five-star Nauman sets up 88-run target for Pakistan!
This Test match has been all about heartwarming stories of being rewarded for enduring patience. After Fawad Alam's incredible century on home Test debut, it is now the turn of Nauman Ali to make an impact by registering a five-wicket haul on Test debut at the age of 34. Nine down and struggling on a pitch where there is plenty of turn, Nauman has the skill to deceive Bavuma with a delivery that straightens and hits him flush on the pad. Bavuma clears his front leg and tries to nail a sweep shot but the ball misses the bat and the umpire raises his finger.
Taking an optimistic bet, Bavuma reviews the decision but the replays confirm the on-field decision and it caps off a scintillating bowling display this morning for Pakistan. Joyful scenes erupt as Nauman performs the sajdah and wears a broad grin on the face as he holds the ball aloft denoting his special achievement. The fourth-oldest spinner to take a five-wicket haul on debut and all his wickets coming after South Africa had instituted a sterling fightback courtesy Rassie van der Dussen and Aiden Markram. From the streets of Khipro, here is Nauman leading his team off to the pavilion following his sparkling show.
The catalyst to Nauman's excellence was Yasir's superb four-four, which ripped the heart out of the Proteas' resilience. South Africa need nothing short of a miracle now to seal a dramatic comeback.
It's the Nauman Ali show
Temba Bavuma would be distraught by his partners finding new ways to get themselves out as he desperately battles on at the other end. Nauman Ali entices Anrich Nortje with a fuller ball floated outside off-stump and the paceman takes the bait throwing his hands at it. The ball loops up after taking the leading edge and Fawad Alam gobbles up the elementary chance. The morning session has been nothing but a forgettable experience for South Africa.
Dropped and castled on the very next ball!
Kagiso Rabada unleashes an outlandish heave aimed at clearing long on but ends up edging it towards deep midwicket where Hasan Ali drops an absolute sitter. While the idea to play with the turn might be right, Rabada doesn't get the timing or placement right and Hasan has all the time in the world to get under this but he grasses the easy chance.
Rabada is ball-watching the entire incident and does not take a run. This proves costly for the tail-ender as he is clean bowled on the next ball. Rabada's penchant for launching ambitious drives sees him attempt another glory shot and the ball sneaks past the big gap between bat and pad to destroy the stumps. A relieved Hasan is unreservedly delighted by the wicket and rushes to hug Nauman.
Nauman removes Linde to dent South Africa
George Linde and Temba Bavuma's stable partnership was doing a fine recovery job for South Africa after two early wickets jolted them upfront. The lanky Linde had been continuing his calm hand from the previous innings by negotiating the variable bounce in the pitch supremely using deft hands. But his efforts are curtailed by Nauman Ali's beguiling bowling.
The ball takes the inside-edge of Linde and Imran at leg slip completes a screamer. Ramiz Raja on commentary was criticising this particular field placing but Imran makes sure it yields a reward for Pakistan. This is the third fantastic catch held by the debutant in the game.
South Africa in deep trouble!
Reverse swing and turn – that's the mantra of success on this pitch. Hasan Ali strikes on the first ball of the day with a ball that sharply dips after pitching on a good length and shatters the stumps of nightwatchman of Keshav Maharaj. The dynamic Hasan Ali celebration is out in full flow as South Africa are upset by a nightmare start. The ball had a hint of away swing which made it harder for Maharaj to prevent it from hitting the wicket.
The fiery blow delivered by Hasan is further augmented by Yasir, who gets Quinton de Kock with a flighted ball. Abid Ali at short leg accepts his third catch of the innings after de Kock decides to flick the ball that spins from the rough. The shot is not well-executed and it takes the inside edge to be deflected off the pad for an impressive grab by Abid. De Kock's disappointing run with the bat in this Test concludes as he was out in a tame fashion in the first innings as well. Pakistan are right on top here!
Build up to Day 4
Good morning everyone! South Africa have attained a slight lead of 29 runs with four wickets down. They were left flustered by a blazing spell of bowling from spinners Yasir Shah and Nauman Ali right before stumps on day 3 after getting into a decent position to dictate terms to Pakistan. The bright spot for the Proteas is that skipper Quinton de Kock is out there and he will be aiming to make amends for his soft dismissal the first time around.
Pakistan will be hungry to wreak havoc on the spicy pitch and will simultaneously be wary of not letting South Africa's lead creep into the three-figure territory. Stranger things have happened in the past and a fourth-innings collapse is never out of the question when Pakistan is involved.