Captain Marques Ackerman and opening batsman Joshua Richards afforded the Cricket South Africa Invitational XI the advantage on day one of an intriguing three-day fixture against Pakistan at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Wednesday.
The hosts reached 318 for seven declared on the back of Ackerman’s unbeaten 103 and Richards’ complementary 98. The tourists later replied with two without loss.
The 19-year-old Richards’ quest for a fifth century in first-class cricket was stifled by part-time spinner Azhar Ali. His vigil featured 11 fours and one six – and spanned 134 deliveries.
The commanding Ackerman, meanwhile, graduated to a fifth first-class century in an entertaining stay lined with 14 fours and a six across 136 balls.
The home sides’ innings relished plenty of promising starts, including opener Neil Brand’s patient 38 and middle-order kingpin Matthew Breetzke’s brisk 24, but nobody acquired Ackerman- or Richards-esque substance.
Pakistan deployed eight bowlers in a bid to maintain match readiness ahead of a crucial three-Test series against South Africa in Centurion, Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Openers Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman will resume on Thursday, when a 316-run deficit must be removed – and a hefty first-innings lead acquired – against a host attack spearheaded by seamers Ruben Trumpelmann and Thandolwethu Mnyaka.