Arthur criticises Newlands pitch as Proteas build commanding lead

Mohammad Abbas' return to fitness means the impressive Shaheen Shah Afridi's place in the eleven is under threat. — File

South Africa players celebrate a wicket against Pakistan on the fourth day of the second Test at Newlands, Cape Town.

The standard of South African pitches came under close scrutiny last season when the Test against India at the Wanderers was nearly called off.

South Africa beat Pakistan by nine wickets on the fourth day of the second Test at Newlands on Sunday.

The Pakistan batsmen struggled on day one against the pace and bounce of the Proteas bowlers and this was evident by them being skittled for 177 in their first innings.

After looking at numerous replays Ravi overturned the on-field decision because it appeared the ball had touched the ground. While Masood looked compact during his 61, Shafiq was aggressive in his approach smashing 88 in just 118 deliveries. It's not easy to bat against the South African bowling attack.

Shan Masood and Asad Shafiq celebrate their 100 partnership, but it wasn't enough to get the visitors a big score.

Pacer Kagiso Rabada felt it wouldn't be Test cricket if things came easy all the time after Pakistan put up a fearless fight on Day 3 of the second Test with Shan Masood, Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam all crafting half-centuries.

By lunch, they had inched along to 37 for 2 in 15 overs, still trailing by 217, after Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada had both struck early in their spells on a pitch showing increasing signs of uneven bounce, removing Imam-ul-Haq and Azhar Ali for 6 apiece.

Duanne Olivier followed up a match-winning performance in the first Test in Centurion by taking four for 48, while Dale Steyn took three for 48.

Rabada, the top-ranked test bowler in the world, knocked the stuffing out of the Pakistan middle order and finally ended the innings when last man Shaheen Afridi skied a catch to Vernon Philander at mid-wicket.

Watch the third and final Test between South Africa and Pakistan, in Johannesburg, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 7.55am on Friday.

The criticism has been rejected by the South African team.

Du Plessis was 80 not out and Bavuma 60 not out to put South Africa in prime position to win the match and the series as it went to tea on 281-4 in its first innings. Quinton de Kock made a breezy 55 not out late in the day to reinforce South Africa's dominance.