Dean Elgar’s 16th Test fifty and a gritty 35 from George Linde took South Africa to 220 on Day One of the first Test against Pakistan at National Stadium, Karachi. In reply, Kagiso Rabada bowled a top-notch spell to reduce the hosts to 33 for 4 at stumps. Moreover, Keshav Maharaj got the better of Pakistan captain Babar Azam to add to the home side’s woes.
As a result, Pakistan now trail by 187 runs with six wickets in hand. Despite not getting as many runs on the board as they would have liked, South Africa would be the happier side of the two.
After opting to bat, South Africa initially pounced on some wayward bowling, especially of Hasan Ali, who is playing his first Test in two years. After a flurry of boundaries early on, Shaheen Afridi got the better of Aiden Markram – who smashed Hasan Ali for three fours in an over not too long ago – for 15. It was a terrific battle between bat and ball. The Proteas were keen on getting on the end of anything loose, while the Pakistan bowlers too bounced back well, which fetched them wickets at regular intervals. Things got worse for the Proteas as they lost Rassie Van der Dussen courtesy of a run-out after a terrible mix-up with Elgar. The left-hander and Du Plessis kept going till lunch, reaching 94 for 2.
However, the second session completely belonged to Pakistan, who got the wickets of du Plessis, Elgar and Quinton de Kock in a span of under 10 overs, with debutant Nauman Ali getting the last two. With spin on offer, Pakistan persisted with spinners for a huge chunk of the second session. It was a hard toil for the South African batsmen, who would be disappointed with the way they batted in post-lunch. With Temba Bavuma dismissed just before tea, the match further tilted in Pakistan's favour.
Wagon Wheel - Dean Elgar
While Pakistan bowled well, some of the rash shots played by the South African batsmen further handed them the initiative. There were no demons in the pitch – and rightly so – considering it was just the first day of the Test, but some of the shot selection from the Proteas batsmen will have to be questioned.
That was the case once again post the tea break when Maharaj – looking to play for the turn against Yasir – opened up the gap between bat and pad and the ball sneaked through to clean him up. Then, Linde, who played well for his 35, pulled Hasan Ali to deep mid-wicket. Rabada then scored some useful runs down the order to pull South Africa past the 200-run mark, before he wreaked havoc with the ball.
Day Two will be a big day for both sides. While the Proteas would want to keep their momentum going, Pakistan will look to weather the early storm and get as close to South Africa’s total as possible. Many batsmen have played down the wrong line and fallen prey and as far as the bowlers are concerned, bowling full on the stumps seems to be the key.
Clearly, the batsmen failed to hang in there especially in the final session, in which as many as eight wickets fell, with both teams accounting for four wickets each.
Tabraiz Shamsi was set to be the third spinner for South Africa in this match, but they had get in Lungi Ngidi in his place as the spinner suffered back spasms ahead of the game.
South Africa 220 (Dean Elgar 58, Yasir Shah 3 for 54) lead Pakistan 33 for 4 (Imran Butt 9; Kagiso Rabada 2 for 8) by 187 runs