Century partnership steadies Pakistan on rain-hit opening day against Proteas

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Rain at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. (Photo by Aamir Qureshi/AFP)
Rain at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. (Photo by Aamir Qureshi/AFP)

Rain and a wet outfield cut short the opening day of the second Test between Pakistan and South Africa in Rawalpindi on Thursday.

SCORECARD | Pakistan vs SA: 2nd Test Day 1

Babar Azam and Fawad Alam's 123-run fourth wicket partnership put Pakistan firmly ahead of the Proteas, with their first innings score on 145/3 after play was cut short.

South Africa shot first out of the blocks in the first session before lunch in the second Test in Rawalpindi, after magnificent bowling displays by spinner Keshav Maharaj (2/51) and Anrich Nortje (1/30).

But captain Azam and Alam turned the tide the other way from the minute they walked into the crease when their team was struggling at 22/3.

Not only did they arrest the wickets tumbling - following the fall of Imran Butt, Azhar Ali and Abid Ali in quick succession - but they went on the charge, putting the Proteas attack under pressure.

Alam’s awkward, squarish batting stance again proved a difficult puzzle for the South African attack to solve.

The left-hand batter’s century steered Pakistan to victory in the first Test in Karachi, which they won by seven wickets, and he appeared to want to pick up where he left off.

He ended the second session with a gritty on 42-not out (138).

Neither of the two unbeaten batmen at the crease had trouble negotiating Maharaj, who was superb in the morning session.

Azam was the star of the show this time around, with 77 (125), a knock that included 12 boundaries and a healthy 61.60 strike rate.

The South African bowling attack, which was without Lungi Ngidi, who was replaced by all-rounder Wiaan Mulder, huffed and puffed to no avail before tea.

Pakistan put on 82 without losing a wicket in the second session as the pitch dried out and conditions looked primed for batting.

However, the rain had the last word and play was called off without the team returning for the closing session.

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