Pakistan’s chances of finding a way back into this series look incredibly slim after South Africa held the upper hand on Thursday’s first day of the second Test at Newlands in Cape Town.
After Pakistan was sent in to bat, South Africa’s foursome of fast bowlers wreaked havoc and two sessions later dismissed the opposition for a mere 177 runs.
In reply, South Africa’s top-order enjoyed a strong evening session, Aiden Markram leading the way with a striking half-century.
A small blight on the day was Markram’s dismissal, bowled by Shan Masood with the last ball of the session for 78. South Africa closed the day on 123/2, trailing Pakistan by 54 runs.
On a pitch offering plenty of zip and bounce, Faf du Plessis opted to bowl on a glorious day in Cape Town.
The opening combo of Fakhar Zaman (1) and Imam-ul-Haq (8) departed quickly, and things got even worse when Azhar Ali (2) fended a terrific short delivery from Duanne Olivier to Hashim Amla in the slip cordon, leaving Pakistan 19/3.
Masood and Asad Shafiq led a brief comeback, taking Pakistan past fifty before Shafiq (20) and then Babar Azam (2) departed in the space of two overs.
Masood was intent on building upon his impressive showing at the Centurion, an impressive 65 in the second innings amidst some poor batting around him.
It seemed like a case of déjà vu as he impressed with some terrific shots – Kagiso Rabada was treated to some delicate work through the off-side, a straight drive past mid-off the highlight.
At the other end Sarfraz Ahmed put behind a horrible first Test – he recorded a pair at the Centurion – to help Pakistan gain a score of a bit more respectability.
The pair batted through until lunch and after, before their 60-run partnership was ended when Masood fell for 44, Rabada having the last laugh as the left-hander nicked behind to Quinton de Kock, who took an excellent diving catch to his left.
Sarfraz managed to reach his half-century before departing in disappointing fashion, an attempt at a slashing cut seeing him feather a nick behind to De Kock off the bowling of Olivier.
Mohammad Amir offered some resistance for Pakistan with an unbeaten 22, but the rest of the tail couldn’t muster much as the visitor’s first innings ended after just 51.1 overs.
Olivier, who took 11 wickets in the first Test, finished with figures of 4/48 on a pitch perfectly suited to his thumping short deliveries.
Markram and Dean Elgar helped South Africa off to a racing start, and after ten overs the home side were 49/0, Markram making light of Mohammad Abbas’s awaited return to the Pakistan line-up as he hit consecutive boundaries from the pacer’s fifth over.
Elgar departed for 20, as Mohammad Amir claimed the breakthrough, using the bounce on offer to take the left-hander’s edge, Sarfraz collecting the catch behind the stumps.
Markram continued to flay the ball to the boundary, bringing up his fifty with consecutive fours off Abbas once more. The arrival of Yasir Shah did little to dampen his spirits, an advance down the track saw the opener discard the Pakistan spin king for six over long-on.
Amla battled through until the end of the day, finishing unbeaten on 24. – African News Agency (ANA)