Pakistan 181 (Babar Azam 71; Duanne Olivier 6-37, Kagiso Rabada 3-59) and 190 (Imam ul-Haq 57, Shan Masood 65; Duanne Olivier 5-59, Kagiso Rabada 3-47)
South Africa 223 – (Temba Bavuma 53, Quinton de Kock 45 ; Mohammad Amir 4-62, Shaheen Afridi 4-64) and 151-4 (Dean Elgar 50, Hashim Amla 63*)
Result - South Africa won by 6 wickets
The Boxing Day Test at Centurion did not go into the weekend as South Africa beat Pakistan by six wickets, chasing a modest fourth innings target of 149. The game was over just after lunch on the third day, with out-of-form Hashim Amla, coming good with an unbeaten 63. It was hard work for he batted for just over 3 ½ hours and enjoyed his share of luck. His second wicket stand with Dean Elgar (50) produced 119 runs, against a bowling unit that could not be faulted for their commitment. Further sharpness with their slip catching and an additional 50 runs on the board, Pakistan could have stretched the home side. That was not to be as South Africa the stronger of the two sides, played much better cricket to earn a Test win.
Pakistan middle order batsmen will require more than a dressing down, which it is reported they received from its coach Mickey Arthur on its poor show in both the innings of the opening Test at Centurion. They have looked short of class and commitment against admittedly a formidable Proteas pace attack. If the two senior batsmen – Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq – are unable to take the lead on this tough away series, Pakistan might as well say goodbye to any hope of a contest in the next two Test matches. With only one warm-up game before the back-to-back three Tests, Pakistan batsmen have their work cut out and seem to be all-at-sea against the extra bounce of the hard South African wickets. The return of Mohammad Abbas and Haris Sohail, for the 2nd Test at Cape Town starting on 3rd January, should in theory strengthen the tourists to be more competitive.
The two captains – Faf du Plessis and Sarfraz Ahmed – wont’ forget the three-day Test in a hurry as they entered the record books with an unwanted ‘feat’ against their names. A pair of noughts were recorded against their names as both failed to trouble the scorers in the two innings. Most bizarre. The home selectors have a pleasant headache to deal with as Duanne Olivier, named Player of the Match for his 11 wickets, might be dropped in favour of Vernon Philander, who ought to make a comeback, after sustaining a finger injury that kept him out of the playing eleven at Centurion.
South Africa - Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis(c), Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock(wk), Keshav Maharaj, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Duanne Olivier
Pakistan - Imam ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed(c)(wk), Mohammad Amir, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi
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