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South Africa hold the edge in race for series

South Africa 183 (Smith 64, Kaneria 3-44, Asif 3-53) and 36 for 2 (Smith 33*) need 125 more runs to beat Pakistan 157 and 186 (Steyn 3-47)

Try telling the batsmen that cricket's a game designed for them. This has been a series dominated by the bowlers, with just one individual century, and the theme continued as South Africa set up a series-winning opportunity at Cape Town. Seventeen wickets beat the tally from the opening day as the home side ran through Pakistan, leaving themselves 161 to take their third trophy of the season.

Unless there is one final dramatic twist on the third day - and it shouldn't be completely discounted - South Africa will seal their success at some point in the afternoon. Graeme Smith batted like a man on a mission as the second day drew to close, taking a useful chunk out of their tricky target.

However, Danish Kaneria's late double means Pakistan can live in hope of pulling off a heist. Boeta Dippenaar's sobering return to the Test team ended with a toe-end off Danish Kaneria. Paul Harris, the nightwatchman, started in the middle at 10.30am and fell to the final ball of the day just to emphasise the frenetic action.

South Africa are chasing fifty more than they would have expected shortly after tea when Pakistan's last main batsman, Inzamam-ul-Haq, was removed by Dale Steyn. Pakistan led by just 95, but a brave eighth-wicket stand of 55 between Mohammad Sami and Shahid Nazir at least gave them something to bowl at. But for the first time in the series Mohammad Asif wasn't quite at his best, leaving the onus on Kaneria.

Sections of three innings took place within 81 overs and at one stage a two-day finish was looming. Pakistan's tail prevented that, but this is another match that will be making the administrators squirm. Despite the fascinating style of play questions will be asked about the pitch.

But players can only perform on what they are given and South Africa's attack was again outstanding. What will please Mickey Arthur about the second innings is that a large proportion of the damage was done by the supporting crew of Steyn, Andrew Hall and Paul Harris. Six Tests in less than two months has taken its toll, but at least has shown there is depth to the bowling resources.

Between them, Steyn and Hall removed five of the top six. Hall showed his knack of nabbing the big names by squeezing one through Mohammad Yousuf's defence and enticing Yasir Hameed to drive to point. But it was Steyn's efforts that were the most eye-catching as he produced swing at high pace. One-off appearances, both through selection and injury, have not helped him settle this season but South Africa know they have something to persevere with.

The odds on Pakistan's openers staying long were short and so it proved as Hafeez played an airy drive to point and Imran Farhat was stitched up by a perfect inswinger. When Steyn returned for a second spell after tea he cranked up the pace and removed Inzamam with a corking outswinger. He could easily have cleaned up the tail, but Sami and Nazir began their rearguard after Kamran Akmal had been given a glove-work lesson by Mark Boucher.

As the ball grew older, and Steyn was rested, the pair began to locate the boundary, sometimes with shots that would make the top order proud. Nazir twice went down the ground and Sami was strong square of the wicket. The odd frown was appearing on South African faces but Jacques Kallis eventually eased the concerns by removing both.

South African were only halfway through their first innings when played started, but quickly fell to 140 for 8 and a narrow advantage was Pakistan's for the taking. Boucher then flicked a switch, protecting Steyn from the strike, and went from 5 to 40 in 29 balls. He launched a thrilling assault on Asif, taking 22 off one over.

Boucher's efforts only earned a lead of 26, but it has been the small things that have made the difference at vital stages. South Africa's bowlers have carried the team and they pulled out the stops once more for Smith. Pakistan have fought valiantly, especially considering their injury problems, but the all-round depth of the home side is set to win the day, and the series.



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