South Africa progressed to 128/3 at stumps on Day 1 after legspinner Imran Tahir grabbed his maiden five-wicket haul to bowl out Pakistan for 99 on the first day of the second test on Wednesday.
Tahir’s figures of 5-32 were backed up by fast bowler Dale Steyn’s 3-38, which helped to knock over Pakistan in just 36.4 overs.
Left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar had Alviro Petersen trapped leg before wicket for 26 with captain Graeme Smith not out on 12 and Dean Elgar, one of the two replacements in the team, unbeaten on 1.
Tahir, drafted after 11 months out, looked pumped up while playing a test for the first time against his country of birth.
He replaced left-armer Robin Peterson, who couldn’t make an impact in the first test which Pakistan won by seven wickets last week.
Steyn passed a fitness test on his right hamstring and was quick to make an impact after Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq won the toss and elected to bat first.
Steyn showed why he is rated the No. 1 test bowler by setting the tone when he had Khurram Manzoor caught off the second ball. The ball swung away from Manzoor whose expansive drive flew to Faf du Plessis at gully.
South Africa’s seamers seemed to have learnt from Abu Dhabi’s seven-wicket drubbing where they bowled too short of a length. Instead Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel all bowled at fuller lengths and pinned down Pakistan to just 27 runs in the first hour.
Shan Masood (21) and Azhar Ali (19) shared a 38-run stand but both looked edgy against the seamers before South Africa struck in quick succession in the last half an hour before lunch. Tahir claimed three wickets off 11 balls that dipped Pakistan to 60-6 at the break.
Left-hander Masood, who made an impressive 75 in his debut test at Abu Dhabi, played on the legspinner while attempting to drive off the front foot; captain Misbah couldn’t read Tahir’s googly as he tried to play across the line and was adjudged lbw on 2, while Adnan Akmal played on the legspinner before he’d scored with Pakistan losing three wickets at the same total of 60.
Tahir grabbed two more wickets soon after the break to surpass his previous best of 3-55 against Australia at Johannesburg in 2011.
No. 9 Babar top-scored with 25 not out and featured in a 33-run last-wicket stand with Junaid Khan, who made 4.
South Africa brought in Elgar after Hashim Amla flew back home to be with his pregnant wife after the first-test defeat last week.
Pakistan retained the same playing 11 which won the first test last week.
The Proteas are aiming to preserve their seven-year unbeaten record of not losing a test series away from home since Sri Lanka beat them 2-0 in 2006.