Leg-spinner Imran Tahir came to haunt the country of his birth, Pakistan, by claiming a maiden five-wicket haul to give South Africa an early control of the must-win second Test yesterday.
The 34-year old finished with a career best five for 32 while fit-again paceman Dale Steyn took three for 38 to bundle out Pakistan for 99 in 36.4 overs at Dubai Stadium before South Africa finished the day on 128 for three.
They lead by 29 runs and enjoyed a good day in their bids to level the two-Test series after losing the first game by seven wickets in Abu Dhabi last week.
Graeme Smith was unbeaten on 67 and nightwatchman Steyn was three not out.
In the morning session, Pakistan’s top-order batsmen were so dismal that number nine Zulfiqar Babar top-scored with 25 not out. Of the six boundaries in the innings, Babar hit three and Masood one. This is the 16th time that Pakistan were bowled out for below 100 in a Test innings.
It brought back memories of Pakistan’s same total against then world number one England at the same venue in 2012, although they went on to win the Test in the end.
But a ruthless South Africa, now the world number one Test side, looked in no mood to concede the early advantage as they now look set for a big first innings lead.
Smith and Dean Elgar, replacing Hashim Amla – who failed to come back after returning home for the birth of his child – added 54 before Ajmal had Elgar for 23.
Pakistan also removed opener Alviro Petersen for 26 and Jacques Kallis (seven) on a day when Tahir gave Pakistan a dose of their own spin medicine.
Tahir, playing his first Test since November 2011, dismissed opener Shan Masood (21), Misbahul Haq (two) and Akmal (nought) off just 11 deliveries to leave Pakistan in tatters at 60 for six by lunch.
Steyn gave no signs of discomfort as he dismissed opener Khurram Manzoor off the second delivery of the match and then had Younis Khan (10).
Azhar Ali then put on 38 for the second wicket with Masood before he was trapped leg-before by paceman Morne Morkel for 19.
Masood remained steady until he played an over-ambitious drive off Tahir and was bowled off an inside edge.
Steyn returned for his second spell to have Younis, caught behind off a rash shot with the score at 60 before Tahir got two more on the same score.
Pakistan’s total was boosted by a 33-run last wicket stand between Babar and Junaid Khan. Junaid was finally bowled for four by Steyn.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2013.