Bowlers dominate on opening day of first Pakistan, South Africa Test

The Pakistan side was provided a rude awakening as South African bowlers ripped through their top-order

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Bowlers dominated on the first day of the first Test between Pakistan and South Africa as 14 wickets fell at the National Stadium in Karachi to bring an end to an eventful yet even day of cricket.

After reducing the Proteas side to a small total of 220 in their first innings on a track that seemed flat initially, the Pakistan side was provided a rude awakening as South African bowlers ripped through their top-order.

Opener Abid Ali, who has been searching for form in recent times, had his stumps uprooted, by pacer Kagiso Rabada, after scoring just four runs off nine deliveries as the ball stayed low.

The fiery Rabada then got the ball to bounce higher than usual from the same length as debutant Imran Butt tried to fend off the brutal delivery only to get caught by substitute fielder Keegan Petersen.

Veteran batsman Azhar Ali and skipper Babar Azam then tried to negate the aggression shown by the Proteas bowlers with a cautious approach.

A master-stroke by skipper Quinton de Kock, to introduce left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj in the final moments of the day, brought with it the huge wicket of the prolific Babar Azam (7 runs off 30 deliveries).

Night-watchman Shaheen Afridi was cleaned up by a brutal delivery from pacer Anrich Nortje to reduce Pakistan to 27 for the loss of four wickets.

Batsmen Azhar Ali (5 runs off 40 deliveries) and Fawad Alam (5 runs off 3 balls) played out the remaining deliveries to ensure that their side did not lose any more wickets at the end of an impactful day.

Rabada was the pick of the bowlers for his side on day one picking up two quick wickets while giving away just eight runs in six overs in a hostile and fiery spell of fast-bowling. However, a wicket each by Maharaj and Nortje put Pakistan completely on the back-foot at the end of day-one.

Earlier, South Africa’s captain Quinton de Kock won the toss and elected to bat first on a visibly flat track against Pakistan. Shaheen Shah found his groove early picking up the edge of opener Aiden Markram, expertly caught by the diving debutant Imran Butt at second slip, after the batsman scored just 13 runs off 16 deliveries.

Rassie van der Dussen (17 runs off 30 deliveries) was the next to depart after a horrible mix-up with fellow batsman Dean Elgar, as wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan charged to the wickets in a Jonty Rhodes-esque manner to complete the run-out.

Veteran batsman Faf du Plessis (23 runs off 46 balls) got a start but was undone by leg-spinner Yasir Shah as Rizwan collected a simple catch behind stumps.

Skipper Quinton de Kock (15 runs off 23 deliveries), known for his flamboyant style of batting, took an ill-advised chance against debutant left-arm spinner Nauman Ali which landed in the capable hands of fielder Imran Butt.

Opener Dean Elgar, who had been in superb touch as wickets fell on the other end, was then quickly removed by Nauman as Pakistan’s skipper Babar Azam completed a straightforward catch at slip. Elgar was able to score 58 runs off 106 deliveries as South Africa moved to a troubling scoreline of 136 runs for the loss of five wickets.

Sensing the need for a stable partnership, batsmen Temba Bavuma and George Linde opted for a cautious approach to stem the surge of the Pakistan bowlers.

Solid work in the outfield by fielder Hasan Ali became the undoing of Bavuma, who was run-out after scoring 17 runs off 67 deliveries.

Yasir Shah then breached the defences of Keshav Maharaj, for a duck, to reduce South Africa to 179 runs for the loss of seven wickets.

George Linde tried to take on a bouncer from fast-bowler Hasan Ali but managed to get caught by substitute fielder Mohammad Nawaz as Pakistan bowlers looked to wrap the Proteas innings.

Tailender Anrich Nortje was undone by Yasir Shah for a duck to reduce South Africa to nine down. Fellow tailender Kagiso Rabada looked to chance his arm against the confident Pakistan attack and managed an enterprising knock of 21 runs off 36 deliveries to ensure that his side crossed the 200-mark.

Shaheen Shah then removed Lungi Ngidi (8 runs off 15 deliveries) to bring an end to the South African innings after scoring 220 runs.

In the bowling department, Shaheen Afridi and Nauman Ali picked up two wickets each while Hasan Ali, who made his comeback to the side, was successful in taking one wicket. Veteran leg-spinner Yasir Shah, however, was the pick of the bowlers for the Men in Green picking up three wickets while giving away 54 runs in 22 overs.

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