CAPE TOWN, South Africa: Pakistan fought back with its best session of the series only for a 132-run stand between Shan Masood and Asad Shafiq to be broken by South Africa just before tea on Day 3 of the second test on Saturday.
Masood and Shafiq took Pakistan from deep trouble at 27-2 before lunch to 159-3 when Dale Steyn ended the partnership 10 minutes before the end of the second session.
Pakistan was 177-3 in its second innings at tea and still 77 runs behind South Africa's first-innings 431 all out.
Masood was drawn into an edge pushing at Steyn's delivery outside off stump and sent a straightforward catch to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock to end Pakistan's best partnership of the series.
No. 4 Shafiq was 73 not out after dominating the partnership with opener Masood, hitting 10 fours and a six and showing the fight that Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur had asked for from his struggling batting lineup.
South Africa leads the three-match series 1-0 and, despite the resistance from Masood and Shafiq, South Africa's fast bowlers were still expected to take their team to a series victory.
South Africa had extended its first-innings lead to 254 at the start of the day, and then removed two Pakistan batsmen quickly to send the tourists to 37-2 at lunch.
Steyn removed Imam-ul-Haq in the fourth over for six and Kagiso Rabada had Azhar Ali lbw for six with the top-ranked test bowler's first delivery of the innings.
That dismissal was the result of an unpredictable low bounce off the Newlands surface, which was criticized on Day 2 by Arthur as weighted way too far in favor of the quick bowlers and not good enough for test cricket.
South Africa was heading for a seventh straight series win at home — it last lost on South African soil against England in 2015-16. That record has been built, especially recently, on fast-bowler friendly wickets that South Africa desires to suit its attack but which occasionally might have gone too far.
A year ago against India, a test was nearly called off in Johannesburg for a dangerous pitch with umpires concerned for batsmen's safety.
Arthur, a South African and former Proteas coach, didn't say the Newlands pitch was dangerous but was clear in his disapproval, calling it and the first test surface at Centurion "sub-standard" for batting.
South Africa says every test team prepares home pitches to suit its own tactics.
Pakistan is not the first team to battle against South Africa's pace-laden attack, with India and Australia both subdued by South Africa's quicks and beaten a year ago.
On this tour, Pakistan was bowled out for less than 200 in its first three innings.
South Africa's tactics were clear for what was shaping up to be the series-decider at Newlands when the home team picked four fast bowlers — two of them ranked in the top four in test cricket — and dropped spinner Keshav Maharaj.