Pakistan’s patience pays off

2013-02-01 14:05

South Africa: 68/2 (Smith 24, Petersen 20, Kallis 15*, Junaid Khan 1/16, Umar Gul 1/28)

South Africa lost both openers within four balls of each other as Pakistan’s patience and diligence received due rewards. It is a workout the Proteas batsmen needed.

With the Wanderers pitch not as verdant as it was earlier in the week, Graeme Smith chose to bat first in the Test against Pakistan, opting not to “protect himself”.

The skies were sunny with patches of clouds. The Wanderers is often friendly to bowlers in the first session and Pakistan did their level best to make use of the conditions.

They limited the runs and they only conceded eight boundaries, with the first one coming in the seventh over when Smith clipped Umar Gul off his pads.

It was one of a few Pakistani faux pas in a morning of excellent bowling, with line and length gaining preference over magic balls. Because of their unpredictable nature, left-arm seamer Rahat Ali, who landed on Monday, was given his test debut ahead of the gangly Mohammad Irfan, who has been with the squad throughout the tour.

He did not disappoint in his first spell.

The only expected inclusion was that of Nasir Jamshed, who debuts in place of the injured Taufeeq Umar, who is out of the tour with a suspected stress fracture of the shin.

The three fast bowlers made South Africa play and miss plenty of times and the corridor outside offstump was probed with unerring accuracy. It was backed up by unusually sharp fielding by Pakistan’s standards as the run rate never looked like getting above three runs an over.

Jacques Kallis found the odd boundary towards the end of the session but Pakistan definitely took the points.

Junaid, who found prodigious swing and seam, was rewarded when he had Alviro Petersen caught by Mohammad Hafeez at third slip off one that squared him up.

Smith’s dismissal had an element of laziness, wafting at a wide Gul delivery, gifting Sarfraz Ahmed a simple regulation catch.

It was not a wicket where the pitch could be blamed but the hard graft was all but washed away.

The mode of dismissal does not take away from how beautifully the Pakistani spearhead bowled.

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