Proteas

Maharaj believes Proteas can turn Test around despite 'unconventional' Fawad's heroics

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Proteas spinner Keshav Maharaj
Proteas spinner Keshav Maharaj
Asif HASSAN / AFP
  • Proteas spinner Keshav Maharaj admits Pakistan batsman Fawad Alam's stance is unconventional but they have adapted.
  • Alam scored a century as the Pakistan Day 3 on 308/8 in Karachi with an 88-run lead on Thursday.
  • Maharaj believes that although the Proteas can turn this Test match with the bat.

Proteas spinner Keshav Maharaj is hoping that his side can turn the match around after they toiled on day two of the first Test against Pakistan in Karachi on Wednesday.

The 36-year-old Fawad Alam scored 109 (off 245 balls including 9 fours and 2 sixes) to anchor Pakistan's 308-8 in Karachi on Wednesday.

READ | 'Out of this world' Fawad Alam reacts to knocking the wind out of Proteas' sails

Maharaj ended Alam and Azhar Ali's 94-run partnership as he edged Ali (51 off 151 balls, 4 fours) off behind to skipper Quinton de Kock.

Fawad was finally caught at mid-wicket off fast bowler Lungi Ngidi after batting for six minutes under six hours.

Maharaj admitted that the Proteas had to adapt to Fawad's unconventional stance at the crease.

"It's not conventional. It does take a few balls to adapt because you're constantly focusing on him but you need to stick to your lines and lengths," said Maharaj, who has two for 71 in his 29 overs.

"At the end of the day when the ball is about to be delivered, he is in a neutral position like most others. From that view, there isn't too much to look into."

Just four wickets fell on Day 2, which was in stark contrast to Day 1 when 14 wickets fell on the grassless Karachi pitch.

It would have been different had the Proteas not dropped four catches - a statistic fielding coach Justin Ontong will be monitoring.

Maharaj stated that despite the missed opportunities, he felt that the Proteas controlled the game through the run rate.

"Catches go down and it's expected. I thought we fielded pretty well. Yes, there's slumps in the game but I thought it was a decent day," said the Proteas spinner.

"I thought we controlled the rate really well and fair play to Fawad, he played extremely well, it just absorbed us. It's not a wicket that's giving you too much and I think we've done a good job as a bowling unit."

Maharaj added that the wicket looks good and he doesn't expect "much turn", but he is wary of spinner Yasir Shah's ability.

"We didn't expect the ball to turn much in the opening days in Karachi but hopefully as the game goes on, we'll see through wear and tear more turn," he said.

"From straight it didn't turn, obviously. With the footmarks it provided some but we didn't see as much turn after having seen Yasir Shah. Yasir is a wrist-spinner rather than a finger spinner, so he does get more revolutions on the ball.

"I think the wicket looks pretty good. It's important for us to come tomorrow and get those last two wickets quickly and then have our batsmen bat for as long as possible. We never know how the pitch is going to deteriorate at the end of tomorrow but it's still a good wicket."

Maharaj believes his side can still turn the game around as the Proteas look to bat on Day 3.

"Pakistan still have a lead so I'll probably give it more to them. But having said that I don't think we are far behind simply because we controlled the rate and we didn't let the scoring get out of hand. We're still under three runs an over," he said.

"Hopefully tomorrow we can wrap the two wickets up and put on a substantial score on the board and turn the Test match around and put ourselves in a position to win." 

Proteas fast bowler Kagiso Rabada is still patiently waiting for one more wicket as he currently sits on 199 Test wickets from 44 Tests.

Pakistan will resume on 308/8 with Hasan Ali (11*) and Nauman Ali (6*) with an 88-run lead.

Play on Day 3 is scheduled to start at 07:00 SA time.

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