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Yasir and Younis fight back

Close Pakistan 242 for 5 (Inzamam 35*, Akmal 18*) v South Africa

South Africa fought back valiantly in the afternoon with three quick wickets as Pakistan wasted a promising position on the first day at Centurion. And despite Inzamam-ul-Haq going to stumps unbeaten on 35, Pakistan have a lot of hard work ahead of them.

At tea Pakistan were 160 for 2, with Younis Khan and Yasir Hameed seemingly cruising; South Africa went wicketless in the afternoon session, with their bowlers lacking the venom which had brought them two early wickets in the morning session. This isn't to discredit the two Pakistan batsmen who showed impressive resolve and application on a pitch which was still offering considerable seam movement. However, whereas in the morning session South Africa's attack bowled short-of-a-length, they dropped it too short in the afternoon and allowed the batsmen onto the back foot.

Younis is Pakistan's street-fighter; a tough, gritty character who thrives on a battle. And, coming to the wicket at 50 for 2, he was in his element. Defending solidly, pouncing on anything short and wide and admittedly riding his luck, he produced several delightful cuts past point and worked singles through midwicket. At the other end Yasir was no less industrious, although lacked Younis's steadfast defence and, on several occasions, was beaten by Shaun Pollock's perfect away-swingers. Batting was tough work.

But it was the introduction of Jacques Kallis which really relieved the pressure on the batsmen. Neither bowling the right line or length, and lacking pace on a slowish pitch, he was worked through midwicket for ease - particularly by Younis - and although Paul Harris bowled tidily at the other end, the combination never threatened to make the breakthrough. Yasir produced the shot of the day: a lazy, elegant, lofted flick off his legs for six over midwicket to bring up his fifty. It was a rare stroke of flamboyance on a pitch which required diligence, not dramatic strokeplay.

South Africa went to tea with hunched shoulders and bruised egos but, 15 minutes later, they returned a renewed side. Pakistan's calm tenacity was replaced by an injection of madness as Younis, so careful before the interval, eyed a Pollock bouncer but mis-hooked it straight to fine-leg. With Younis back in the pavilion, Yasir contracted the same hook-happy disease against Andre Nel in what was clearly a planned attack from the South Africa bowlers.

Off successive deliveries Yasir attempted to hook Nel, but could only top-edge them: once just short of deep midwicket, and the other just over short midwicket's head. Both were unnecessary shots, both fortunately evading the fielder. Suddenly, South Africa's bowlers looked rejuvenated and refreshed - Nel steaming in from one end, Pollock metronomically accurate from the other.

Yasir's newfound liking for the hook continued unabated, but his luck ran out and he top-edged one straight to Makhaya Ntini at deep square leg. It was a depressing end to what had been a fighting knock and, all of a sudden, Pakistan had two new batsmen at the crease. Faisal Iqbal didn't last long, though, edging Kallis through to Mark Boucher who took an easy catch - his 367th in Tests - passing Ian Healy's record of 366 catches in Tests. Pakistan had lost 3 for 21 in 10 overs.

Inzamam, perhaps inevitably, steadied the ship from sinking altogether with a typically counterattacking innings towards the close of play. But with the second new ball still only five overs old, Inzamam holds the key to both sides fortunes tomorrow.

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