Pakistan may not have appreciated conceding 318 runs against the SA Invitation XI at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Wednesday, but the work-out for their bowlers will come in handy when the three-match Test series with South Africa starts next week.
Mohammad Amir, who didn’t play in the series against New Zealand and last played a serious match five weeks ago, got through 13.3 overs, teenager Shaheen Shah Afridi bowled 13 overs and Hasan Ali 16.
Mohammad Abbas is still, Pakistan hope, in the last few days of rehab with an eye on that Boxing Day Test at SuperSport Park, while leg-spinner Yasir Shah was kept from view, with a couple of ‘spies’ from Cricket SA in attendance.
For touring teams, these matches are often about getting some miles in legs in low-key competitive environments, where they are not keen to show off all their weapons.
Amir will bowl quicker at SuperSport Park next week than he did in Benoni on Wednesday.
The same holds true for Afridi and Hasan, depending on whether one or both are picked, which will most likely be determined by Abbas’ fitness.
Pakistan may not have been operating at full tilt, but that won’t lessen the value the young batsmen in the SA Invitation XI got from the experience.
Joshua Richards – a young opener from Gauteng for whom a very bright future is being predicted – scored 98, putting a halt to a stunning run which started for the Gauteng semi-professional side.
He made three hundreds in a row – two in the first-class competition, and another in the One-Day tournament.
It was the continuation also of wonderful start for his senior career, which only began this season and has seen Richards, who turned 20 on Wednesday, score four centuries in his first five first-class matches.
Another graduate of St. Stithian’s College in Johannesburg, Marques Ackerman, is captaining the Invitation XI and he made a fine 103 not out, with 14 fours and a six, before cheekily declaring on 318/7 late in the day – asking the Pakistanis to face three overs.
Openers Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman got through that without any damage, and as was the case for the bowlers on the first day, the Pakistan batsmen will want to put in a lot of work on Thursday and spend as much time as possible at the crease.