SHOT: A classy innings from Babar Azam which saw him emerge on top in a lively battle with Steyn. There were some lovely cuts, but it was his driving through the covers that stood out.
Ten of his 15 boundaries in his innings of 71 came off Steyn. It was a high-quality innings, with his team under pressure on a difficult pitch.
BALLS: At one point – those first six overs of his – it was as if Mohammad Amir was lobbing hand-grenades. It felt like every ball could bring a wicket.
He bowled with superb control, bringing the batsmen forward, moving the ball across the right-handers and swinging it back into them.
The ball which got Amla was pure wizardry: angling across the right-hander, it pitched and seamed into the batsman, bounced more than anticipated too, the edge flying to gully.
CATCH: Theunis de Bruyn came into this match having had to pass a fitness test following a back injury. There were no suggestions of any problems when he took a stunner to dismiss Azhar Ali.
Moving quickly to his right, he then put in a full length dive and reached out with his right hand to grab the ball.
HERO: Steyn got all the publicity understandably for his record-breaking antics, but the day belonged to Duanne Olivier.
Only starting because of the injury to Vernon Philander, Olivier turned full brute from his second over onward, thumping the ball relentlessly into the surface and causing the Pakistani batsmen much pain and his teammates plenty of pleasure.
Asked before the match what had led to his renewed consistency with the ball, Olivier paid tribute to his wife Casey-Leigh, saying she’d helped him find clarity in life and with his bowling. 6/37 suggests she’s a darn good coach.
CROWD: A sell-out crowd witnessed an invigorating day’s play. Cricket South Africa are keen to turn the Boxing Day Test into a marquee event like the New Year’s one in Cape Town and the Pink ODI at the Wanderers.
The first day here at SuperSport Park was definitely promising. However, there have been sold-out crowds for the first day of the Boxing Day Test at venues in Durban and Port Elizabeth previously.
So can Centurion, unlike those two venues, continue to attract good crowds for the remainder of the match? Therein lays the measurement for success for this match. It is nicely poised, there are no excuses not come here.
QUOTE: “There’s still a lot to do in this Test, but when I was standing at the top of my mark, after taking the wicket, I nearly pushed out a tear. There was definitely a lump in the throat at that moment.” – Dale Steyn recalls the crowd’s standing ovation after he claimed Test wicket No 422.
CONDITIONS: Extremely hot, and the opening day’s play took place on a well-grassed pitch.
Being the first day, the pace off the surface was slightly slow, but there was plenty of assistance for the seamers, which to the credit of all, they used brilliantly.
The heat will help to quicken it up and kill a lot of the grass over the coming days.@shockerhess