South Africa reaches 127-1, needs further 243 in 2nd test

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Rawalpindi:  Aggressive batting by Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen gave hope to South Africa’s bid to level the series after Pakistan set the tourists a challenging target of 370 runs on the fourth day of the second and final cricket test on Sunday.

Markram (59) and van der Dussen (48) both stayed unbeaten and carried the Proteas to 127-1 at stumps on day 4 as both batsmen added 94 runs and dominated the last session of the day.

South Africa, which lost the first test by seven wickets but has not lost a test series against Pakistan in 18 years, needs a further 243 runs on the last day on a seemingly batsman-friendly pitch.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan (115) earlier hit an unbeaten maiden test century and shared a record-breaking ninth-wicket stand with Nauman Ali before Pakistan was bowled out for 298 for an overall lead of 369 runs.

But Markram and van der Dussen launched a counterattack against spinner Nauman Ali and Pakistan’s two fast bowlers — Hasan Ali and Faheem Ashraf — by striking 17 boundaries between them.

Pakistan had made an early inroad when Dean Elgar (17) threw away his wicket before tea as the left-hander chased a wide delivery from Shaheen Afridi (1-22) and was caught behind. Markram and van der Dussen then added a brisk 94 runs to bring South Africa back into contention.

Markram took 22 balls before he got off the mark, but then raised his 5th test half century off the next 49 deliveries with eight fours and two sixes. Van der Dussen also drove and pulled with ease and has eight fours.

Rizwan smashed 15 boundaries in his knock of 115 off 204 balls in nearly five hours before Pakistan was bowled out after lunch.

Left-arm spinner George Linde (5-64), playing in his third test match, took a maiden five-wicket haul and Keshav Maharaj picked up 3-118.

Pakistan was leading by 200 when it resumed on 129-6, but Rizwan got invaluable support from tailenders against scrappy South Africa fielding.

Yasir Shah (23), who was dropped twice, had a 53-run stand with Rizwan before he was caught behind off Linde. But it was No. 10 batsman Nauman’s defiance for 25 overs that frustrated South Africa the most.

Nauman, who hit two sixes against the spinners in scoring 45 off 78 balls in a knock that also included six fours, shared a record-breaking 97-run stand with Rizwan.

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