Hashim Amla’s unbeaten 63 and Dean Elgar’s 50 helped the Proteas seal a six-wicket Boxing Day Test win against Pakistan in Centurion, writes KHALID MOHIDIN.
It was a Test that favoured the seamers, as the Centurion pitch produced variable bounce and sideways movement that aided the seam bowlers of both sides. The inconsistencies of the wicket made it hard for both batting lineups to get settled in, and as a result a total of only four half-centuries were scored in the first three innings – three from Pakistan and one from the Proteas.
The milestones in the Test all belonged to the Proteas bowlers. Day one saw Dale Steyn become South Africa’s leading wicket-taker, and saw Duanne Olivier take his maiden five-for.
Day two saw Olivier take a second five-for that saw him finish with an 11-wicket haul for the match, and the third best figures at SuperSport Park. Kagiso Rabada was also in the spotlight after taking his 52nd wicket for the calendar year, more than anyone else for 2018.
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The match saw Pakistan bowled out for 181 after winning the toss. Pakistan struck back by bowling the Proteas for 223, with Temba Bavuma’s half-century and 45 from Quinton de Kock digging the Proteas out of a hole after being 112-5.
Pakistan started their second innings with a deficit of 42 and they put up a score of 190, thanks to half-centuries from Imam-ul-Haq and Shan Masood, but Olivier was superb again and took 5-59, aided by Rabada (3-47) and Steyn (2-34).
This left the Proteas with a target of 149 for victory and three days to get it.
The Proteas’ chase was problematic, as the batsmen struggled to read the inconsistent trajectories of the ball on the Centurion wicket. Throughout the Test match, variable bounce and sideways movement on the pitch was an evident issue for both batting lineups.
Elgar and Amla battled for every run as they ground it out in the middle. Elgar faced 79 balls for his first 32 runs, while Amla faced 75 balls for his 45 as they went to lunch needing only 68 runs for the win.
The pair continued to edge closer to the winning total as Amla shrugged off his troublesome form to reach his 40th Test half-century, and he was perfectly supported by Elgar, who followed suit by scoring his 13th Test half-century.
Elgar hit a beautiful straight drive to reach 50, but lost his wicket the following delivery, knicking Shan Masood to Sarfraz off the 123rd ball he faced.
Two unnecessary wickets fell when Theunis de Bruyn was stumped off the bowling of Yasir Shah for 10, and Faf du Plessis was caught for a duck when pulling, but Amla stuck around to see the Proteas over the line.
Pakistan (first innings) – 181 (Babar Azam 71; Duanne Olivier 6-37, Kagiso Rabada 3-59)
South Africa (first innings) – 223 (Temba Bavuma 53, Quinton de Kock 45; Shaheen Afridi 4-64, Mohammad Amir 4-62)
Pakistan (second innings) – 190 (Imam-ul-Haq 57, Shan Masood 65; Duanne Olivier 4-59, Rabada 3-47)
South Africa (second innings) – 151-4 (Hashim Amla 63*, Dean Elgar 50; Yasir Shah 1-20)
Photo: Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images