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South Africa seize opening day honours against Pakistan in first Test

South Africa seize opening day honours against Pakistan in first Test
January 26, 2021

KARACHI – The Test series between South Africa and Pakistan got off to a thrilling start, with the match evenly-poised at stumps on the first day in Karachi.

South Africa were shot out for 220 by the Pakistan spinners, but the visitors then reduced the home side to 33/4 by stumps, a deficit of 187.

Kagiso Rabada, the express South African paceman, returned 2/8 to ensure he finished the day just a wicket short of reaching the 200 Test wickets landmark.

The day began with Quinton de Kock, the South Africa captain, opting to bat, and when Aiden Markram and Dean Elgar hit Hasan Ali for five fours between them in the first few overs, it seemed the visitors had come in with their plans set.

South Africa went into lunch on the happier side, despite losing two wickets. Markram, having edged Shaheen Afridi to slips, was dismissed for 13, and Rassie van der Dussen was run out for 17 after setting off for a quick single, only to see his partner had not reciprocated.

Despite that, with Elgar looking in good nick, and quite comfortable facing the spinners, South Africa had posted a hefty 94/2 by lunch. However, on the first ball after resumption, Faf du Plessis was dropped, but South Africa couldn’t capitalise on the reprieve, with du Plessis falling to a leg-break from Yasir Shah.

Captain de Kock then symbolised South Africa’s aggressive, but risky approach to spin when he scooped one off debutant Nauman Ali straight to mid-wicket for 15. When Elgar, easily the South African batsman most comfortable against spinners, became Nauman’s second wicket, the visitors were reduced to 136/5.

It needed a 42-run partnership between Temba Bavuma and George Linde to stem the flow of wickets. The duo lasted 102 deliveries, and ensured the momentum Pakistan had gained from those dismissals had been drained.

However, a wicket triggered another slide. Bavuma was dismissed for a 67-ball 17 – disastrously run out attempting a second run – and South Africa promptly lost four wickets for 16 runs. Had it not been for an adventurous last-wicket stand of 25 between Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada, South Africa would not have made it past 200.

As insufficient as that total may have seemed at the time, South Africa battled back admirably with the ball in the 18 overs that were remaining in the day.

Rabada provided the early breakthrough, taking out the openers within seven overs. He first had Imran Butt, the debutant, dismissed for nine after extracting extra bounce, and then had Abid Ali bowled for four in his next over.

Azhar Ali and Babar Azam were in thereafter, attempting to see the day through, but things took a turn for the worse when Keshav Maharaj trapped the Pakistan skipper in front with a quicker delivery. Azam reviewed, but replays suggested that umpire Aleem Dar had made the right call, and Pakistan lost their best batsman.

When Afridi, the Nightwatchman, followed suit in the next over, bowled for nought by Anrich Nortje, South Africa were firmly in control.

The visitors will hope to keep the momentum going on the second morning. –ICC