PRETORIA (Reuters) – Hashim Amla found welcome form with the bat amid a morning of good fortune for South Africa as they pushed towards victory at 81 for one at lunch in pursuit of a modest 149 on day three of the first test against Pakistan at Centurion Park on Friday.
Pakistan were left frustrated after what they believed was a clean catch off Dean Elgar at first slip was overturned by third umpire Joel Wilson from West Indies as South Africa battled against some excellent seam bowling on a helpful wicket.
Amla (45 not out) and Elgar (32 not out) will resume after the interval as South Africa seek a 1-0 lead in the three-match series having steadied their batting effort following several early alarms.
Starting their second innings chase under gloomy skies after overnight rain, opener Aiden Markram was trapped leg before wicket by Hasan Ali (1-35) for a duck before the home side had a run on the board.
Pakistan bowled with skill and accuracy, and beat the bat on numerous occasions before Amla was dropped on eight at third slip by Fakhar Zaman.
It was a chance that flew of the edge of the bat but should have been taken, with Ali the unlucky bowler.
Pakistan’s irritation grew when moments later they thought they had Elgar caught at first slip when he was on four.
Seamer Shaheen Afridi induced the edge that looked to have been gobbled up by Azhar Ali. Elgar began walking towards the dressing room, but was called back when the on-field umpires conferred over whether the catch had been taken.
It was sent to third umpire Wilson with a soft signal of ‘out’, which called for conclusive evidence for the decision to be overturned. With only the two-dimensional images available, the West Indian decided there was enough doubt to change the decision.
It was a potentially a huge moment in the innings with South Africa on 16-1 at the time, and while Pakistan continued to beat the bat, Amla and Elgar were able to score more freely in the second hour of the session.
Amla will now be seeking just a second half-century in 14 test innings at a ground where he averages 75 and has enjoyed notable success down the years.
(Reporting By Nick Said; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)