Elgar and Markram went to lunch with South Africa, which was still 121 behind
Having lunch South Africa 220 and 37 for 0 (Elgar 18 *, Markram 16 *) Trail Pakistan 378 (Alam 109, Ashraf 64, Azaher 51, Rabada 3-70, Maharaj 3-90) by 121 runs
South Africa started the third day as desperate as a dismal second day, so Pakistan’s tail wasn’t wagging so much as hopping, skipping, and jumping to a potentially decisive lead. A 55-year partnership for the tenth wicket deepened South Africa’s chances in this Test even further, as Pakistan finished at 378, inflating the lead to 158, and ensuring South Africa had to fight hard to get Pakistan beating again in this one Test.
Yasir Shah’s innings may have looked casual, due to the ubiquitous smile on his face and the caution he threw to the wind on the way, but that wasn’t a laughing matter for the visitors. After Pakistan started the day with eight wickets and 88 wickets, South Africa knew that every run they added would further increase the odds against them. They started well enough when, in the second part of the day, Kagiso Rabada knocked out Hasan Ali’s middle stump to finish third fastest on 200 test wickets.
But there was little time to celebrate, especially since Nauman Ali and Shah decided to still imagine a bat. Former Crunched Rabada was the first ball the South Africans bowling for four. Shortly thereafter, Shah drove him through the ceiling before perfectly placing a square cut in one for another border. Pakistan took 350 and the 150 run lead as Shah danced down the floor to deposit Keshav Maharaj for six for a long time.
The crank with the left arm eventually caught Nauman, but not before the lead widened to 158, and South Africa had an hour to negotiate before lunch. Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram possibly did better than Pakistan did in the final hour on day one, neutralizing the new ball in the hands of Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hasan. Markram may have walked away when caught in the front by Afridi but was rescued when verification revealed the ball had thrown out of the leg. It was a small win for a visiting team that will take many bigger wins to fight their way back in this test.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ Danny61000