Tea South Africa 124 and 25 for 1 (de Villiers 10*, Amla 2*) trail Pakistan 265 (Inzamam 92*, Younis 45, Ntini 6-59) by 116 runs
Inzamam-ul-Haq was left eight runs short of a memorable century, which would have completed a full set against Test playing nations, but his unbeaten 92 - and a last-wicket stand of 74 with Mohammad Asif - has left Pakistan with a major lead of 141 on the second day at Port Elizabeth. The same combination then brought an early breakthrough before tea as Pakistan took a firm grip on the match.
However, nothing ever runs smoothly in Pakistan cricket and they have lost the services of Shoaib Akhtar after he came down with a hamstring strain somewhere between the start of the day and his short innings. He is unlikely to bowl again this match so the pressure will be on Asif, Mohammad Sami and Danish Kaneria. The blow gives the efforts of Inzamam even greater significance.
When the ninth wicket fell Inzamam 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. He showed no signs of the neck injury that forced him off the field yesterday, pulling and hooking with ease.
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, only had to face nine balls during the first 10 overs of their stand which took Pakistan to lunch with a 99-run lead.
South Africa became increasingly exasperated as Inzamam continued to fine the boundary, most 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. When they did manage to bowl at Asif their efforts were too short and he was able to let the deliveries fly through to Boucher. Eventually, Makhaya 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 milestone 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. Inzamam was able to latch onto some short and wide deliveries as the lead grew. 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 has shown that this pitch is fine for batting and South Africa now have to follow his lead to haul themselves back into contention.