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Pakistan vs. South Africa- 2nd Test- Fifth Day Preview and Prediction

South Africa will retain a faint hope of victory in the second Test against Pakistan today, after creeping to a 323-run lead at the end of the fourth day in Pakistan’s makeshift ‘home’ venue, Abu Dhabi.

The Proteas twice had the opportunity to convert their dominance into a winning position yesterday, however were held back by Abdur Rehman who led the charge for Pakistan with both bat and ball.

Graeme Smith's men began the fourth morning brilliantly when paceman Dale Steyn trapped Misbah-ul-Haq on the crease with the first ball of the day for 77; however Pakistan tail's response was complimentary. Rehman shared stands of 36 with Umar Gul, and an impressive 59 with Tanvir Ahmed, to help them firstly avoid the follow-on and then pass 400 for the first time this year.

Even though South Africa still holds the advantage heading into the final morning, they are still not in the position they would have aimed for at the start of the day.

Be under no illusions a draw here today, and a resulting drawn series, will most certainly be considered a win on behalf of Pakistan.

With Graeme Smith out of the remainder of the Test with a fractured hand, Hashim Amla was shifted up the order to open alongside Alviro Petersen, with the move bearing fruit as Amla continued his fine run of form. In fact, during the innings he passed 1000 runs in 2010, making him the first South African player to achieve this feat in both Test and ODI cricket in the same calendar year.

The surface showed tell-tale signs of spin late on the fourth afternoon, meaning today still promises to be a tough and long one for Pakistan.

One would imagine that the South African’s will most likely head out to increase their total to 400 quickly and with intent, giving themselves the better part of a day to unleash on an often unsettled  and confidence lacking Pakistan batting lineup.

The bookmakers are playing this one safe, with the odds highly in favour of a draw, however on a deteriorating final day pitch, and an in-form South African spin attack, do not be surprised to see South Africa turn it on here today.

Johan Botha and Paul Harris will for once take centre stage for South Africa today. The pace duo of Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn will most certainly have a crack at the top order, however the pitch is screaming for spin, and with that a possible result.

There are no real surprises on the batting front with Younis Khan favoured to lead the charge, however don’t be surprised to see young Azhar Ali emulate his first innings form.

The smart money here says this encounter  should peter out to a draw, however one cannot help but imagine that being the first time this venue has ever hosted a test match, that anything less than a dramatic turn would be a disappointment to both set of supporters.

Pakistan have shown grit this series, however the fact remains that South Africa are the second ranked side in the world for good reason, and today is as good as any to show just what they can do.

Prediction: South Africa to win in the final session, with Paul Harris doing the damage.

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