DUBAI - Pakistan's cricketers are staring at defeat in the second Test after South Africa out-batted them and then bowled well on the third day in Dubai on Friday.
South Africa, seeking a series-levelling win, once again rocked Pakistan's top order with three early wickets after compiling a mammoth 517 in their first innings for a big 418-run lead at Dubai stadium.
At stumps, Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq (42no) and Asad Shafiq (28no) were at the crease but they still need a whopping 286 runs to avoid an innings defeat or bat out two days to force a draw.
But South Africa's bid for victory, and keeping their seven-year unbeaten away series record, was tainted when they were docked five penalty runs by the umpires after television replays showed Faf du Plessis apparently trying to tamper with the ball before Pakistan's 31st over.
The field umpires, Rod Tucker of Australia and Ian Gould of England, called South African captain Graeme Smith for a warning, changed the ball and added five penalty runs to Pakistan's total.
Even that embarrassment couldn't save Pakistan as they continued to slump after finding themselves 2-2 at lunch.
Dale Steyn removed Shan Masood with the fourth ball of the innings, having him trapped in front of the wicket with a sharp delivery for nought.
It became 2-2 when Khurram Manzoor fell for his second duck of the match, caught off a miscued drive off Vernon Philander from the fifth ball of the second over.
Azhar Ali and Younis added 46 for the third wicket before part-time spinner Jean-Paul Duminy struck with his first ball, trapping Ali lbw with a low delivery for 19.
AB de Villiers was understandably optimistic about his side's chances.
"We definitely are in a position to win the match," said De Villiers.
"They are four down and the new ball in the corner tomorrow so if we get the fifth man out and get to the tail."
He also denied scratching the ball: "We play in a fair manner, obviously we want to swing the ball as much as you can and try to get it reverse, putting sweat on the one side and stuff like that, we don't cheat, it's as simple as that."