Cape Town Test: Three talking points from first day’s play

South Africa edged ahead courtesy strong bowling performance

Cape Town Test: Three talking points from first day’s play PHOTO: Reuters

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed hit a spirited half-century but could not prevent South Africa's fast bowlers taking control on the first day of the second Test at Newlands in Cape Town on Thursday.

South Africa's decision to pick an all-pace attack paid dividends with all the bowlers picking up wickets as Pakistan were dismissed out for 177 after being sent in on a hard, green-tinged pitch.

Duanne Olivier followed up a match-winning performance in the first Test in Centurion by taking four for 48, while Dale Steyn took three for 48.

In reply, South Africa were 123-2 at stumps on day one.

Opener Aiden Markram was unfortunate to be dismissed on delivery of the day’s play after doing all the hardwork. He scored 78 runs off 96ball.

Meanwhile Veteran batsman Hashim Amla was unbeaten on 24 runs.

Fast-bowler Mohammad Amir and part-time bowler Shan Masood claimed one wicket each.  

Lets take a look at some of the major talking points of the day

Sarfraz, Masood fail to build on solid starts

Skipper Sarfraz and one-down batsman Shan Masood brought some sort of respectability to Pakistan’s total with scores of 56 and 44 runs respectively.

But having said that the duo fluffed a great opportunity to get the team in a better position — had they stayed out in the middle for a longer period of time.

Both the batsmen showed lack of patience as they got out on deliveries which could have been left alone.

Being more cautious and selective in their shot-making was something which Pakistan lacked in the first Test and it has shown little sign of improvement, here in Cape Town as well.  

On an away tour of South Africa — where Pakistan batsmen generally do tend to struggle — it is imperative that you make most an opportunity, when it comes along.

Despite that fact, this by no means will deprive them off the credit for giving the Pakistan bowlers something to bowl at — bearing in mind that the team was in danger of a total collapse at 54 for five.

Pakistan continue to struggle against Duanne Olivier

South Africa pacer Olivier proved too hot to handle for Pakistan batsmen once again as he bagged four wickets in the first innings of the second Test.

Olivier was the player of the match in the first Test match of the series in Centurion — where he completed match figures of 11-96.

On the first day in Cape Town, the same theme continued as he dismissed Azhar Ali — for the third time in the series — while his pace and bounce accounted for Babar Azam. The fast-bowler also claimed the prized-scalp of Pakistan captain Sarfraz — at a time when he looked set for a big score. Leg-spinner Yasir Shah was Olivier’s fourth and final wicket of the innings.

The 26-year-old has proven to be a clever operator with the ball as he makes good use of his height, pace and varying angles from crease to good effect.

If Pakistan are to have any chance of succeeding in the ongoing Test series, it is pivotal that they find a way to tackle him — before it’s too late.

Markram adds to Pakistan’s troubles    

With already a modest total on the scoreboard, Pakistan’s problems were accentuated by the fact that Markram played a brisk knock at the top of the order — to knock the stuffing out of Pakistan bowlers.  

Markram has the second best strike rate (62.26) for openers who have featured in five or more Test matches in the past 12 months. Meaning that the longer he stays on the pitch, the more difficult it becomes to stem the flow of runs.    

Pakistan would have been hoping that the incoming Mohammad Abbas would trouble the home side in helpful conditions but his impact was neutralised by right-handed batsman — who adopted a more positive approach and pounced on anything lose.

Gauging from the way he was dismissed in the previous match, Markram made slight adjustment to his stance by batting slightly outside the crease — in order to counter the swing and seam movement.  

Pakistan were lucky that an unlikely candidate — in the shape of Shan Masood — got his prized scalp on the final ball of the day.