Faf: There were times when both teams’ batsmen made (the pitch) look a little harder than it was. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/Backpagepix

CENTURION – Although this first Test finished in two and half days - robbing the local union of  lucrative weekend gate-takings in the process - South African captain Faf du Plessis wouldn’t have it any other way for his batsmen.

The pitch for this match wasn’t as bad as last season’s one for the third Test against India at the Wanderers which led to that ground being docked demerit points, leaving it on the brink of being suspended as a venue for international matches, but it was not an easy one to bat on.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed said it was a “bowling paradise,” which is exactly what South Africa want. “We understand that home conditions aren’t perfect for batting,” said Du Plessis, who bagged ‘a pair.’ “The wickets we play assist our seam bowling attack.”

Du Plessis didn’t add that his side’s preference for livelier surfaces was only when teams from the sub-continent toured this country. The pitches were certainly livelier for the Indian series than the Australian one last summer, and the one prepared for this match probably leaned too much in favour of the seamers. However Du Plessis said the batsmen on both sides also bore responsibility for the quick finish

“There were times when both teams’ batsmen made it look a little harder than it was.”

Du Plessis and Sarfraz both reflected on Pakistan’s second innings as the major turning point in the match. “Pakistan played really well, got to 100/1 and should possibly have made more runs for us to chase, because the wicket did get a little bit better to bat on.” 

“Ideally you’d like the Test to go a bit longer, but I felt there was a good contest between the two teams,” Du Plessis added. 

The South Africans have made no secret of wanting pitches with more pace and bounce when the sides from the sub-continent tour here. This one erred too much in the bowlers’ favour, but Du Plessis is happy to take that - as long as his side wins. 

“We’ve got the best bowling attack statistically in the world and it would be stupid not to make use of that. So if that means it makes life a little bit tougher for us as batters ...as long as we are winning Tests matches, I will definitely smile about it. 

“We joke about it a lot, you’d rather want to be batting in Australia as an opening batsman, as Dean (Elgar) says all the time. For me, it’s about winning Test matches and at the moment we are doing that at home. In a perfect world you’d love your batters to do well and score hundreds all the time, but the wickets we are preparing are not flat wickets, there is good assistance for the seamers.”

Elgar was sat next to Du Plessis as he spoke, nursing a bruised left arm while his right elbow was also strapped up, and just shook his head.

“They need to treble my and Aiden’s salary,” Elgar chirped. “South Africa is definitely the toughest place in the world to bat.”


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