Pakistan cruise past Proteas to take series lead

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Pakistan captain Babar Azam. (Photo by Asif Hassan/AFP)
Pakistan captain Babar Azam. (Photo by Asif Hassan/AFP)

South Africa's spin troubles were laid bare at the National Stadium in Karachi when a first session collapse gifted Pakistan a seven-wicket win and a 1-0 series lead.


Resuming at 187/4, South Africa cascaded to 245 all out before lunch on the fourth day. It gave Pakistan a measly chase of 88, which they knocked off in 22.5 overs.

Anrich Nortje (2/24) removed the openers Abid Ali (10) and Imran Butt (12) bowled and caught behind respectively, but Pakistan strolled to their target with relative ease.

Wise heads Azhar Ali (31*) and captain Babar Azam (30) quelled the nerves with a chanceless 66-run partnership for the third wicket that sealed the game with a day to spare, even though Azam was snared by Keshav Maharaj.

While all plaudits deservedly go to the unconventional, yet highly effective Fawad Alam (4*), whose first innings total of 109 proved the difference, the bowlers finished what he started.

Irregular bounce that troubled Azhar and Azam justified why the bowlers put in a massive shift, even with the bat. They frustrated South Africa with late runs that buffed up their first innings total of 378.

A chase of 150-plus, which was a possibility when Pakistan slipped to 27/4 on the first evening, would have been tricky.

The spinners though ensured that wasn't going to be the case.

On Test debut, 34-year-old Nauman Ali took his first five-wicket haul (5/35) with Yasir Shah collecting four (4/79). 

Hassan Ali took the other wicket as South Africa failed to recover from the three third evening wickets taken by the spinners.

South Africa's stuffing was well and truly knocked out by that mini collapse where Rassie van der Dussen (64), Faf du Plessis (10) and Aiden Markram (74) fell to the spinners in the last 30 minutes of the day.

If the Proteas were to set a reasonably competitive target, they needed to wickets intact through the first session.

That didn't happen.

SA's die was cast when Hassan Ali castled Maharaj (0) with the very first ball of the day, in effect continuing the third evening collapse.

If resistance was needed from Temba Bavuma (40) and Quinton de Kock (2), it came from the former as the latter again fell to spin.

Having fallen to Nauman in the first innings, he was collected by Shah in the second as his troubles against spin continue.

George Linde (11) showed admirable application but when his inside edged drive off Nauman was collected by Butt at leg gully, the tail folded quicker than deckchairs.

Kagiso Rabada (1) was cleaned up by a lovely flighted delivery from Nauman, while Nortje (0) was pouched by first innings centurion Fawad Alam at point as the seasoned left-armer cut a swathe through SA's tail.

Bavuma, who negotiated all that was thrown at him, was Nauman's fifth wicket when he was trapped in front.

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