Pakistan reeling as Proteas breathe fire
A few eyebrows were raised when South Africa captain Faf du Plessis won the toss and opted to bowl‚ but by lunch on the first day of the second Test against Pakistan the visitors were reeling.
Already 1-0 down in the series after losing in Centurion‚ Pakistan were precariously placed on 75/5 in their first innings on Thursday.
While it took them a while to warm the occasion‚ the South African attack breathed fire on the opening morning as the visitors struggled to ride the steep bounce or indeed negate the movement off the seam.
Duanne Olivier picked up where he left off in Centurion by bagging two wickets‚ while Dale Steyn‚ Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada grabbed one each.
Pakistan opener Zaman Fakhar pushed and prodded his way to one run before almost out of nowhere Steyn got a delivery to spit up from an uncomfortable length. The only shot available to Fakhar was one in self-preservation and he succeeded only in scooping the ball to Temba Bavuma in the gully.
Philander‚ back in the side after missing the first Test through injury‚ had a few LBW shouts turned down earlier in his spell against Fakhar. He‚ however‚ implored rather than appealed to umpire Joel Wilson after he got one to nip back off the seam to Imam ul Haq.
Philander had progressed beyond the batsman with his hands raised above his head in full expectation that the finger would be raised and incredulously turned around when he realised the umpire was still motionless. Eventually Wilson raised his finger and upon review it was confirmed that the ball would have clipped a bail.
Rabada entered the attack in 11th over but it was from the Wynberg End where first Test hero Olivier accounted for Azhar Ali. Olivier‚ who tends to dig it in‚ thudded the ball into the turf with his first three deliveries and when he got one vaguely on target Azhar obliged by fending the ball to Hashim Amla at first slip.
Dean Elgar held on to a stinging catch in the slips to get rid of Asad Shafiq and by the time Babar Azam was caught by Faf du Plessis in the same cordon Pakistan were on the ropes.
Bowling first wasn’t the only out-of-character decision South Africa arrived at on the opening morning. Almost unthinkably they went into battle without a spinner at this ground but by the lunch break they were in the pound seats.