The Proteas took command of the second Test against Pakistan at Newlands by taking their score to 123-2 at stumps, thanks to some superb performances from their bowlers and batters, writes SIMON LEWIS.
With Pakistan being bowled out for 177 before the players took tea, the Proteas openers got their innings off to the perfect start in the face of some testing bowling from Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas and Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram gritted through some tough overs to put together 56 for the first wicket inside the first 12 overs before Mohammad Amir induced an edge from Elgar with his score on 20 off 30 balls, Sarfraz Ahmed taking the catch safely behind the stumps.
Markram went to his 50 off just 56 balls, which was his first Test half-century since his brilliant 152 against Australia at the Wanderers in March 2018.
Hashim Amla played a beautiful checked square drive off Shaheen to move to 15 off 35 balls. After a dogged display with the bat during his brief innings, it was a stroke that was certainly pleasing to Proteas fans.
A delicate leg glance by Amla off Yasir Shah brought up the 100 off 147 balls, and not long after Markram went down the wicket to Yasir Shah, hitting him for a beautiful straight six to bring up the pair’s 50-partnership, Amla having contributed just 19 runs.
Markram continued to bat beautifully until the final ball of the day, when a delivery from Shan Masood kept low and cut back in to rattle his stumps. It was Masood’s second Test wicket off only his 48th ball in Test cricket, and was a sad end to a well-crafted, diligent innings from Markram, who fell for 78 off 96 balls with South Africa on 123.
The Proteas will resume tomorrow just 54 runs behind Pakistan and with eight first-innings wickets in hand, so they certainly have the upper hand in this match and are well positioned to wrap up the series in this Test, although for Pakistan it was an important blow to strike to give them hope for a revival of fortunes.
Although Duanne Olivier and Markram took the main honours from the day, credit must go to Proteas legend Dale Steyn, whose 3-48 was his first three-for since the Test against New Zealand in Centurion in August 2016 when he took 3-66 in the first innings and 5-33 in the second innings. Since then Steyn has taken just eight Test wickets in eight innings, two of which were interrupted by injuries.
It’s a testament to Steyn’s professionalism and commitment to South African cricket that he has fought back to regain his fitness and to remain at the forefront of a powerful Proteas bowling attack.
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