JOHANNESBURG – A fine half century from opener Aiden Markram propelled South Africa to 108 /1 at lunch on the first day of the third and final Castle Lager Test against Pakistan here on Friday.
Markram showed no sign of discomfort from the bruised thigh that had made him a doubt for this match, producing a sparkling innings in which he peppered the cover boundary fence with many excellent drives.
At lunch he was not out on 78 having faced 101 balls and struck 14, for the most part, beautiful boundaries. He was accompanied by Hashim Amla, who was much more sedate on 22.
The pair’s partnership is currently on 102 following the early dismissal of stand-in captain Dean Elgar for 5.
Elgar, leading the Proteas in this match after Faf du Plessis was suspended for the side maintaining a slow over-rate in the second Test at Newlands, had won the toss on a beautiful day in Johannesburg, choosing to bat first on a pitch, that based on the first session’s play, lacks the prodigious seam-movement that made batting so difficult in Centurion and Cape Town.
In the second over he edged a lovely delivery angled across him by Mohammad Abbas to Sarfraz Ahmed with home team’s total on 6.
South Africa made just one enforced change to their starting team from the side that wrapped up the series in three days at Newlands, with 23 year old Zubayr Hamza becoming the Proteas’ 100th Test player in the post-isolation era. He will bat in Du Plessis’s spot at no.5.
Meanwhile Pakistan made three changes to the side that lost the second Test at Newlands by nine wickets; Shadab Khan comes in for Fakhar Zaman, Faheem Ashraf for Shaheen Shah afridi and Hassan Ali for Yasir Shah.@shockerhess