Aggressive batting by Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen gave hope to South Africa’s bid to level the series after Pakistan set the tourists a challenging target of 370 runs on the fourth day of the second and final cricket Test on Sunday.

Markram (59) and van der Dussen (48) both stayed unbeaten and carried the Proteas to 127-1 at stumps on day 4 as both batsmen added 94 runs and dominated the last session of the day.

South Africa, which lost the first test by seven wickets but has not lost a test series against Pakistan in 18 years, needs a further 243 runs on the last day on a seemingly batsman-friendly pitch.

“We need to build on this partnership as we know wickets can fall in clusters, like we lost in Karachi,” South Africa assistant coach Enoch Nkwe said. “The wicket is playing well so the guys need to apply to chase down the target.”

Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan (115) earlier hit an unbeaten maiden Test century and shared a record-breaking ninth-wicket stand with Nauman Ali before Pakistan was bowled out for 298 for an overall lead of 369 runs.

But Markram and van der Dussen launched a counterattack against spinner Nauman Ali and Pakistan’s two fast bowlers _ Hasan Ali and Faheem Ashraf _ by striking 17 boundaries between them.

“They came out with good intent and attacked us,” Rizwan said. “Bowling is our strength and there is something for the spinners. We are still hopeful to win this match and the series.”

Pakistan had made an early inroad when Dean Elgar (17) threw away his wicket before tea as the left-hander chased a wide delivery from Shaheen Afridi (1-22) and was caught behind. Markram and van der Dussen then added a brisk 94 runs to bring South Africa back into contention.

Markram took 22 balls before he got off the mark, but then raised his 5th test half century off the next 49 deliveries with eight fours and two sixes. Van der Dussen also drove and pulled with ease and has eight fours.

Rizwan smashed 15 boundaries in his knock of 115 off 204 balls in nearly five hours before Pakistan was bowled out after lunch.

Left-arm spinner George Linde (5-64), playing in his third test match, took a maiden five-wicket haul and Keshav Maharaj picked up 3-118.

Pakistan was leading by 200 when it resumed on 129-6, but Rizwan got invaluable support from tailenders against scrappy South Africa fielding.

Yasir Shah (23), who was dropped twice, had a 53-run stand with Rizwan before he was caught behind off Linde. But it was No. 10 batsman Nauman’s defiance for 25 overs that frustrated South Africa the most.

Nauman, who hit two sixes against the spinners in scoring 45 off 78 balls in a knock that also included six fours, shared a record-breaking 97-run stand with Rizwan.

The partnership bettered Pakistan’s previous record ninth-wicket stand against South Africa when Azhar Mahmood and Shoaib Akhtar featured in a 80-run stand at Durban in 1998.

Rizwan raised his half century off 113 balls before lunch and then reached his hundred off 185 balls when he pushed Linde to cover point for a single.

“Honestly the wicket was very difficult when I batted late on the third day, but thanks to God that I survived and played one of my best innings,” Rizwan said.

Rizwan started the day with an imperious cover drive boundary off fast bowler Andrich Nortje’s first ball and also used his feet well against both spinners by playing sweep shots and drives to deny South Africa’s ambitions of keeping its victory target below 300 runs.

Nauman, who made his test debut in the first test at the age of 34, missed out on his maiden fifty when he was finally caught at midwicket while attempting a pull against Kagiso Rabada, who finished with 2-34.

Earlier, Hasan Ali (5) fell leg before wicket to Maharaj in the day’s sixth over before two dropped catches allowed Shah to add 53 valuable runs with Rizwan.

Captain Quinton de Kock couldn’t grab a faint edge behind the wicket when Shah was on 10 and then Linde couldn’t hold on to a tough one-handed catch off his own bowling when Pakistan’s lead was 257.

South Africa also dropped two catches late on the third day that enabled Pakistan’s lower order to make a strong comeback after the tourists had fallen to 76-5.

Pakistan won the first test by seven wickets and has not beaten the Proteas in a home test series since 2003.

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