Rahat, Adil strikes fail to prevent SA from crossing 300 | Pakistan Today

Rahat, Adil strikes fail to prevent SA from crossing 300

On day one South Africa was 334 for 6 with AB de Villiers and Veron Philander batting at 98 and 45 respectively.
Before the start of the Test Pakistan received the unpleasant news that two of their main bowlers won’t be available – Umar Gul out due to a sore throat and Junaid Khan still recovering from the injury that kept him out of the Newlands Test – leaving their pace attack with a total of only two caps coming into the match. South Africa also had an injury-related jolt as Jacques Kallis was forced out with a calf problem he picked up during an optional training session.
Two sessions into the game, it was Pakistan who were dealing with the losses better than South Africa. Though the visitors’ raw attack wasn’t consistently threatening and offered plenty of freebies, they managed to strike regularly to dismiss half the South Africa side by tea. Till about half an hour to the end of the second session, the hosts were ahead as Hashim Amla extended the form that made him the world’s No. 1 Test batsman to serve up a stylish 92. Towards the end of the session, though, Rahat Ali struck twice, first removing Amla and then Dean Elgar to lift Pakistan.
Rahat had also provided the early breakthrough after Graeme Smith won his third toss in a row and chose to bat on a sunny day in Centurion. Rahat began with a wayward over, in which he was caned for a couple of boundaries by Alviro Petersen, bringing back memories of his ineffective Test debut earlier this month in Johannesburg. He made amends in his second over, though, as an incutter had Petersen lbw for 10.
Ehsan Adil, the third fast bowler to debut for Pakistan this series, had an even better start as he struck on the third ball of his Test career, getting Smith to nick a catch to a diving Younis Khan at second slip.
South Africa were 38 for 2, and with Kallis missing, they were a batsman light. Amla, however, led the recovery with an innings filled with the whiplash drives and the high-risk strokes that he makes seem routine. He was involved in a couple of substantial partnerships, first with Faf du Plessis and later with AB de Villiers to keep South Africa motoring along at four an over.
The pressure Pakistan had applied through the early wickets quickly dissipated as their bowlers sprayed the ball around, regularly overpitching or providing too much width. There were plenty of boundaries and towards the end of the session, du Plessis took Rahat for three fours in four deliveries as South Africa took 35 runs off the final seven overs before lunch.
Saeed Ajmal, Pakistan’s hero in the Newlands Test, was unable to keep the runs down initially, but he exerted more control after lunch. With only two runs coming off the first three overs after the break, du Plessis decided to try throw Adil off his length by skipping down the track but he could only nick the shortish ball through to the keeper.
Still, there was no let-up in the scoring as Amla and de Villiers provided a treat of shots. De Villiers was felled by a beamer from Mohammad Irfan, but that didn’t prevent him from playing his usual inventive strokes, including reverse-sweeps and late dabs past slips. He also regularly picked up singles, and with Amla capitalising on the many overpitched, hit-me deliveries on offer, South Africa coasted towards 200.
Amla showed how confident he was by skipping down the track and launching Ajmal over mid-on for four to move to 80. There was a lull in his scoring after that and he survived a loud appeal for caught-behind even after Pakistan used the DRS. Soon after, though, he attempted a drive away from his body – usually not advisable, but Amla plays it perfectly often – and feathered to the keeper. Dean Elgar didn’t last long, becoming Rahat’s third wicket for 1 and South Africa were 196 for 5.

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