South Africa once again had a convincing opening in the third and final test against Pakistan. Both the openers Aiden Markram and Hashim Amla helped the team put up a competitive score on board. Markram made 90 whereas Amla made 41. Both were then complimented by youngsters Bruyn and Zabayr Hamza who made 49 & 41 respectively.
Theunis de Bruyn (49) and Zubayr Hamza (41), who was on his test debut, had a 75-run stand for the fourth wicket to keep South Africa in apparent control.
However, what happened after tea was rather unbelievable. From being in control on 226 for three at tea, South Africa was bowled all out for 262 on the first day.
Pakistan opening bowler Mohammad Amir said a simple plan hatched at tea time was responsible for a dramatic South African collapse on the first day.
Pakistani bowlers finally strike
While the Pakistani bowlers remained unimpressive in the first half, they bounced back really hard after tea. Faheem Ashraf led the attack from the front as he took 3 crucial wickets of Markram, Quinton De Kock and Oliver.
Amir, Abbas, and Hasan each took two wickets whereas Shadab was able to secure one wicket.
Pakistan’s quick bowlers carved through the middle and lower order in the final session to bowl the home team out for a lower total, reducing Pakistan’s worries to some extent.
Pakistani batsmen a disappointment on Day 1
Although the bowlers set a solid ground for Pakistan yet the batsmen once again failed to utilize the opportunity.
Shan Masood and Azhar Ali fell off consecutive deliveries from Vernon Philander. After the opening batsmen providing a shaky start, the team closed day 1 on 17/2.
Twelve wickets fell on the first day, nine of them in the eventful last session.
Pakistan’s last five wickets went down for the addition of 16 runs (including three partnerships of 0). Only Babar and Sarfaraz were able to provide some resistance, adding 78 for the sixth wicket in 10 overs. Asad Shafiq, Imam ul Haq, Azhar Ali and all the remaining batsmen continued to have guest appearances.
Courtesy of the quick downfall of the Pakistani batsmen, South Africa was able to get a 77 runs lead in first innings.
Day 2 – a balanced fight
Day 2 was once again evenly balanced between both the sides. Captain Dean Elgar and Markram both were bowled out early in the day. Elgar was caught out on Amir’s ball whereas Markram returned to the pavilion on Abbas’s delivery.
The Proteas did enter into a panic mode from there on as Bruyn and Zubayr Hamza both fell into Faheem Ashraf’s trap and could not score much.
Pakistan was looking sharp but towards the end of the day, Amla and Quinton de Kock made a partnership of 43 from 45 balls giving much-needed stability to South Africa, helping Proteas secure a lead of 212 runs.
The bowlers suddenly seemed helpless in front of the veteran South African batsmen and by day end Sarfaraz was also close to losing his calm.
South Africa closed the day with 135/5.
They will further bat on the third day which means Pakistan is in for a tough chase.
If Pakistani openers do not perform tomorrow(after the bowlers take the remaining wickets) then they will witness their first ever whitewash in 2019 (and the year is just starting). And it won’t be a good signal for the captain Sarfaraz and certainly not for team Pakistan.
Picture Credits: Yahoo Cricket