A furious Ottis Gibson was left shaking his head as the Proteas presented chance after chance to Pakistan in a lethargic first hour here on Saturday morning.
They managed to maintain control after the morning drinks break thanks to Duanne Olivier but the players should still expect a rollicking from their normally cool as cucumber coach at the lunch break.
Pakistan went to lunch on 111/5, with Babar Azam on 41 and captain Sarfraz Ahmed on 8, still trailing by 151 runs.
That first hour was dire however from the home team, a fielding performance usually associated with their opponents. Four catches were dropped, a stumping missed and a run out too.
The moods of Gibson and the bowlers went from frustrated to furious, with the Proteas coach seen shaking his head while seated in the front row of the viewing area in the dressing room. Mohammad Abbas and Imam ul-Haq were both dropped twice; the chances ranging from simple to difficult, but catchable, in the case of Quinton de Kock’s two misses.
Abbas, the nightwatchman was dropped in the gully by Temba Bavuma on six off Vernon Philander, an easy chance for a player of Bavuma’s ability.
Three balls later, Dale Steyn was left fuming as Theunis de Bruyn dived to his right from third slip and deflected the ball into Dean Elgar’s face, another easy chance offered by Imam ul-Haq, who was on 13 at the time.
The next two misses belonged to De Kock, who’d already let go a stumping opportunity down leg side off Philander when Imam was a strike – a very difficult opportunity. Abbas was dropped by the South African wicket-keeper in the 19th over, off Steyn, as De Kock dived to his right. Steyn, worryingly then left the field clutching the right shoulder that kept him out of the game for over a year in 2016.
He returned later, much to everyone’s relief, though he copped another pounding from his nemesis in this series Babar Azam.
De Kock dropped Imam with Pakistan opener on 33 off Kagiso Rabada, drawing anguished groans from the Wanderers crowd.
Elgar must have said some stern words at drinks, for two balls after the break, De Bruyn finally held onto a chance offered by Abbas, getting rid of the right hander for 11. Three balls later Asad Shafiq left his bat trailing in the air behind him as he ducked a bouncer from Olivier, the chance – far easier than those he’d missed – taken by De Kock.
Imam fell to an excellent catch by Elgar 10 minutes before lunch, the opener making a hard fought 43 in two and half hours at the crease.
There was some sparkling batting from Azam leading up to the break as he punished Steyn again – just like he’s done throughout this series. Despite all their misses, South Africa still control the game.