Cricket: Saqlain sticks to his task

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Pakistan 456

South Africa 359-6

South Africa had no trouble in avoiding the follow-on but there was a flurry of excitement in the afternoon when five wickets fell for 61, taking their score to 282 for 6. The damage was done by the off-spin of Saqlain Mushtaq, who has bowled beautifully throughout the long South African innings.

He finished the day with figures of 5 for 126 and he would not have been flattered if he had picked up two or three more wickets. His leg-spinning colleague, Mushtaq Ahmed, who toiled away at the other end for much of the day, finished without a wicket.

The slow pitch did not make life easy for bowlers or batsmen. There was nothing in it for the fast bowlers and whenever the spinners caused problems the ball came through so slowly that the batsmen had time to adjust.

At the start of the day South Africa needed 118 more to avoid the follow- on and in the morning Gary Kirsten and Jacques Kallis took no risks, picking up what runs were offered. There was one memorable stroke when Kirsten came down the pitch to Mushtaq and drove him through extra cover for four. They were still together at lunch, having put on 66 from 29 overs.

The score had reached 221 for 1 and Kallis had made his highest Test score, 61, when he played back to one which Saqlain bowled from round the wicket and was leg before. Seven runs later, when two short of his hundred, Kirsten followed one which the off-spinner turned more sharply and was caught in the gully.

Then, at 249, Daryl Cullinan was most unlucky to be given lbw to Saqlain to a ball which clearly pitched outside the leg stump. The follow-on was then saved before Hanse Cronje cut Azhar Mahmood to backward point and Brian McMillan was caught at slip off the back of the bat sweeping at Saqlain.

But Shaun Pollock and David Richardson, both competent batsmen, then made sure Pakistan will not gain too big a lead with an unbroken seventh- wicket stand of 77 against bowlers who were tiring.

Fourth day, Pakistan won toss

PAKISTAN - First Innings 456 (Azhar Mahmood 128no, Ali Naqvi 115, Mushtaq Ahmad 59; S M Pollock 3-74, A A Donald 3-108).

SOUTH AFRICA - First Innings

(Overnight: 139 for 1)

G Kirsten c Ijaz b Saqlain 98

J H Kallis lbw Saqlain 61

D J Cullinan lbw Saqlain 16

*W J Cronje c Ijaz b Azhar 24

B M McMillan c Ijaz b Saqlain 7

S M Pollock not out 35

D J Richardson not out 30

Extras (b13, lb9, nb12, w4) 38

Total (for 6) 359

Fall (cont): 2-221, 3-228, 4-249, 5-278, 6-282

To bat: P L Symcox, A A Donald, B N Schultz.

Bowling: Waqar Younis 20-8-45-0; Azhar Mahmood 21-1-57-1 (nb4 w4); Mushtaq Ahmad 50-15-109-0; Saqlain Mushtaq 59-13-126-5 (nb8).

Umpires: S Venkatravagahn (Ind) and Javed Akhtar (Pak).

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