Temba Bavuma raises his bat after reaching his half-century for the Proteas against Pakistan on Thursday. Photo: Themba Hadebe/AP

CENTURION – Pakistan quite rightly remain confident of their chances of taking a 1-0 lead against the Proteas on Friday.

Asked if the visitors felt they could defend 149 at SuperSport Park, Shan Masood firmly replied: “Without a shadow of a doubt.

“We had them 43/4 in the first innings, and had we bowled just a little bit better to the two new batsmen, who knows what could have happened.

“But we have seen that there is still plenty in that pitch, the bounce is inconsistent, and even on the first day, a couple of balls kept low, so it will not be easy to bat.”

Obviously, the tourists would have liked to set a bigger target – somewhere closer to 200, said Masood.

But they will put their trust in their highly talented trio of quicks and the new ball to try and wreak havoc in the first session on Friday.”

“The first 15 to 20 overs will be key,” agreed Temba Bavuma, one of those two batsmen who kept Pakistan at bay on the first day.

Bavuma batted longer than any other South African in the first innings, scoring a very fine 53.

“I would say we would like to be as positive as we can (on Friday), try to assert ourselves against their bowlers. They have a very good attack.

“It won’t be easy, but if we can dominate those first 20 overs, it will make things a lot easier for the guys coming in,” he added.

That Pakistan weren’t able to set the Proteas a target closer to 200 was the result of what is now becoming a worryingly characteristic batting collapse from the tourists in the final session of play on Thursday.

Pakistan lost nine wickets for 90 runs in 28 overs, continuing the trend that cost them the series against New Zealand recently on ‘home soil’ in the UAE, when they collapsed in the final innings of the first and third Tests.

“I didn’t play that series, I can’t speak for what happened there,” Masood replied sharply about why this keeps happening with his team.

“It was obviously very disappointing today not to cash in after the top-order had made such a good start.

“All I can say is that it’s not easy batting out there,” said Masood, who spent over three hours compiling 65.

“There are cracks, but they’re covered with grass, and the ball is deviating off that. You’re never in as a batsman, and that’s what will continue to give us hope (on Friday).

“We will never be out of the game, not until they’re got that last run.”


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