South Africa 124 and 115 for 3 (Kallis 50*, Prince 21*) trail Pakistan 265 (Inzamam 92*, Younis 45, Ntini 6-59) by 26 runs
An outstanding captain's innings from Inzamam-ul-Haq was the defining performance on an intriguing second day at Port Elizabeth. A final-wicket stand of 74 with Mohammad Asif extended Pakistan's lead to major a 141 and moved the attention away from Makhaya Ntini's 300th Test wicket. Asif made early inroads as South Africa batted again but without the services of the injured Shoaib Akhtar wickets became harder to come by as Jacques Kallis set about the recovery operation.
However, although Pakistan are a bowler light, after Shoaib's hamstring somehow went between the start of play and his short innings, they are still 26 runs ahead with Asif and Mohammad Sami able to refresh with a night's rest. Asif has so far posed the most threat, especially with the new ball, but the fact Pakistan are still in credit puts Inzamam's efforts into an even greater context.
When the ninth wicket fell he was on 31, but he farmed the strike so expertly that in the final-wicket stand which spanned 20 overs Asif faced just 29 balls. His half-century, which came off 87 balls, was the first of a match which has been dominated by the bowlers but Inzamam showed his class and took advantage as the ball grew softer, showing no signs of the neck injury that forced him off the field yesterday.
South Africa missed a chance to wrap up the innings when Mark Boucher spilt a tough leg-side glove from Inzamam when he was on 35. It proved a costly miss, as another 70 runs were added to the total. Inzamam read the situation perfectly as Asif, one of the most genuine number elevens around, was left with as little as possible to face.
South Africa became increasingly exasperated as Inzamam continued to find the boundary, mostly with meaty drives and pulls but also the odd edge. It wasn't a new situation for them, as just over a year ago Mike Hussey and Glenn McGrath added 107 for the final wicket at the MCG. Eventually, Ntini pitched one up and took out the off stump to move to 301 wickets, having earlier reached his triple century, but not before the stand had become the largest of the match.
Ntini's milestone was the highlight of the morning session, which was going reasonably to plan for South Africa, as the bowlers chipped away at the tail. A useful stand of 31 between Inzamam and Sami was broken as Ntini became the third South African to reach 300 Test wickets, a memorable mark for one of hardest working players around. It also completed his 17th five-wicket and the third of a season that has already brought 25 scalps.
Shoaib could only survive 16 balls before he was bounced out by Jacques Kallis, but the South African bowling wasn't as impressive as the first afternoon. A short ball also did for Kaneria, this time from Shaun Pollock, but as hard as they tried the home side couldn't break the final stand until well into the afternoon session.
Inzamam's innings along with the time spent in the middle by the lower order showed the pitch was nowhere near the minefield 16 wickets had suggested on the first day. However, Graeme Smith failed to prosper for the second time in the match as the Inzamam-Asif combination that had caused him a severe headache terminated his stay. As with his running earlier in the day, Inzamam's reflexes to hold the catch showed his athletic side.
With Shoaib out of the equation Asif and Sami had an added workload with the new ball but offered very little for the South Africans. The pressure became too much for AB de Villiers, who has a top score of 47 this home season, as he played round a straight one from Asif. Hashim Amla was less culpable when he was beaten by a full quick delivery from Sami.
Down to two frontline pacemen, Inzamam turned to Kaneria for control and wickets - but only the first was forthcoming despite some wonderful loop and drift. Kallis combated him with relative ease, but Ashwell Prince should have been stumped on 17 as Kamran Akmal's sorry match continued. The fourth-wicket pair showed impressive resilience although it's only the start of a long fight if the home side want to wrap up the series with a match to spare.