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Cricket | Pakistan tour of South Africa 2018/19

Zubayr Hamza © Gallo Images

Proteas fight back after batting slump

Pakistan wrested the advantage from South Africa and then surrendered some of it on the opening day of the third and final Castle Lager test at Bidvest Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday.

It was a day of contrasting fortunes and when the dust had settled after stumps were drawn, the visitors had reached 17 for two in reply to South Africa’s disappointing first innings total of 262. That left Pakistan 245 behind on the first innings with much work to be done on day two.

There had been very little of sign of South Africa handing the momentum over as play resumed for the final session after tea with their total on 226 for three.

Although there were soft dismissals for a masterful Aiden Markram (90) and Hashim Amla (41), batting had appeared comfortable until that stage.

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But Pakistan enjoyed their best period of the series when they took all of seven South African wickets for only 33 runs in the evening session. The visiting seamers were relentless as they came back from the break determined to bowl their side back into the dead rubber test.

Amir said there was a meeting in the dressing room during the tea break.

"The first two sessions we didn't bowl well. After that we made a plan to bowl wicket to wicket and control the run rate," said Amir.

It was an astonishing collapse when one considers how Markram and Amla had dominated proceedings earlier in the day.

"This wicket is far better (for batting) than the first two games but I always believe that when you stick to the basics, whether you are a bowler or a batsman, you can get the reward," said Amir.


But South Africa bounced straight back with the ball as Vernon Philander claimed the wickets of Shan Masood (2) and Azhar Ali (0) with consecutive deliveries to once again send flutters through the opposing dressingroom. Both were caught behind by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.

Imam-ul-Haq (10) and nightwatchman Mohammad Abbas (0) survived the remainder of the day.

After the early loss of stand-in captain, Dean Elgar, Markram and Amla were superb as they took the team to lunch on 108 for one. The duo went on to break SA’s second wicket partnership record against Pakistan of 119 but only managed seven more runs before Markram was strangled out, caught down the leg-side for a classy 90 off seamer Faheem Ashraf.

The 24-year-old righthander, who passed a fitness before the game, scored freely and elegantly and his runs came off 124-ball innings and included 16 fours. It was his fifth test half-century.

"It was the best I've moved in a session," Markram said. "It's important to respect the good balls but when there is a ball in your zone you need to be in a frame of mind to put it away."

"Our total is a bit under par but it did seem to be a bit more difficult to bat on later on," he concluded.

Amla gifted his wicket to legspinner Shadab Khan before there was a breezy partnership of 75 between Theunis de Bruyn (49) and debutant Zubayr Hamza (41) for the fourth wicket.

De Bruyn’s lbw dismissal by Mohammad Abbas triggered the start of the collapse.

Then Mohammad Amir got his tail up and got in the act removing Hamza and Temba Bavuma (8) while Faheem Ashraf picked up three wickets for 57, which included Markram, De Kock (18) and Duanne Olivier for nought.

SOUTH AFRICA: Dean Elgar (capt), Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Zubayr Hamza, Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Duanne Olivier

PAKISTAN: Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed (capt & wk), Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali


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