Pakistan finished the day on 17-2 after the bowlers had done their bit to dismiss South Africa for 262 on day one of the dead rubber third Test against South Africa at Johannesburg.
It was fittingly inexplicable that Pakistan had by far their best bowling session of the series on by far the difficult surface to bowl on as they claimed seven wickets after tea to dismiss the hosts for 262 despite them being 229-3 at one stage.
Muhammad Amir and Muhammad Abbas seemed rejuvenated after the short break and found reverse swing that the South African batsmen had no answer to.
Abbas caught Theunis de Bruyn in front of the stumps on 49 to start a dramatic slide that saw South Africa lose wickets at regular intervals.
Amir then dismissed the in-form Temba Bavuma before claiming the wicket of set debutant Zubayr Hamza for 41 to expose South Africa’s tail.
What would be particularly encouraging for Sarfraz Ahmed, even if it comes too late, would be the way all his four pacers were among the wickets, with Hasan Ali and Faheem Ashraf getting in on the act later on as well.
There had been no hint that things would change so drastically in the first two sessions as South Africa had scored at nearly four an over, finding the boundary with alarming ease and losing just three wickets in the first two sessions, to go into the final session at 226-3.
Pakistan’s struggles continued as their bowlers were made to look toothless on a Johannesburg pitch that is a far cry from the surfaces in the opening two matches, claiming just one wicket in the first session of the dead-rubber third Test before getting two more in the next session.
Muhammad Abbas had dismissed Dean Elgar in his first over to leave South Africa at 6-1 but there was precious little joy for Pakistan players and supporters after that as opening partner Markram found the boundary with alarming ease.
The right-handed Markram smashed 90 off 124 balls before hitting a faint edge on a poor delivery down the leg side that was gobbled up by a gracious Sarfraz Ahmed.
Amla, who was involved in a century stand with Markram, was the next to go as he tried cutting a Shadab Khan delivery that wasn’t quite there to be cut.
Debutant Zubayr Hamza showed no nerves though and was aggressive right from the get go, even smashing Shadab for a six.