STUMPS: Pakistan punish Proteas to take control of first Test
JOHANNESBURG – South Africa were made to pay for their inadequate first innings total as Fawad Alam’s superbly crafted century gave Pakistan a significant advantage at the end of day two of the first Test in Karachi on Wednesday.
In fact the Proteas appeared to wilt in the final session, again their minds muddled – particularly skipper Quinton de Kock - while understandably bodies were tired.
Pakistan finished the day on 308/8 a lead of 88 runs. Fawad was the hero, his unusual style – he creeps across his stumps just as the bowlers goes into his gather – can certainly make one think he won’t last long.
However, it’s his position at the point of delivery that matters. He is in line with his stumps – and certainly knows where his off-stump is and where his scoring areas are situated. He is also mentally strong and ultimately on Wednesday he proved to be tougher than the South Africans.
Fawad and Azhar Ali, each on five, had resumed on Wednesday morning with Pakistan’s total on 33/4 – trailing the Proteas by 187 runs. They were still together at lunch have held off some excellent bowling from Kagiso Rabada in particular. They only scored 71 runs in the first session, but that hardly mattered, because it was more important that they didn’t lose wickets.
Azhar departed in the afternoon, caught behind by Quinton de Kock for 51 off Keshav Maharaj, but the 94-run fifth wicket partnership with Fawad, had provided the hosts with the kind of platform needed to overtake South Africa.
Mohammad Rizwan played some fine strokes against the reverse swinging ball in making 33 – sharing another crucial partnership with Fawad of 55. Fawad gradually opened up against the South African spinners in particular, clouting Maharaj for a lovely six over long on.
He brought up his hundred with a six as well – off the part time off-spin of Aiden Markam – over midwicket. It was reward for a fine knock, a perfect illustration of mental fortitude and planning. As a result of his efforts, Pakistan were able to cash in against a tired Proteas team in the final session.
Fawad’s 109 – his second century in a month – came in 353 minutes, off 245 balls and included nine fours and those two sixes.
South Africa, having fought hard in the first two sessions, fell apart horribly after tea. The tourists conceded 130 runs in 34 overs. For skipper De Kock it was a bad day – not only did waste all three of South Africa’s reviews but he also dropped Faheem Ashraf on 21 off Rabada’s bowling. Faheem went on to make 64.
Rabada, Maharaj, Nortje and Ngidi picked up two wickets apiece.