Pakistan fight back after Olivier takes six
Duanne Olivier stole the limelight for South Africa on a day when Dale Steyn became South Africa's leading all-time wicket-taker.
CENTURION - Fast bowler Duanne Olivier was almost apologetic for stealing the limelight from record-breaker Dale Steyn after 15 wickets fell on the first day of the first Test between South Africa and Pakistan at SuperSport Park on Wednesday.
Olivier took six for 37 as the hosts bowled out Pakistan out for 181 but South Africa struggled in reply, reaching 127 for five at the close, with left-armers Mohammad Amir and Shaheen Shah Afridi both taking two wickets.
"I promise I didn't try to do it," said Olivier when it was suggested he had reduced Steyn's achievement of becoming South Africa's all-time Test wicket-taker almost to a footnote on an action-packed day.
Steyn had Fakhar Zaman caught at second slip in the seventh over of the day to reduce Pakistan to 17 for two. It was his 422nd Test wicket, taking him beyond Shaun Pollock into first place on his own among South African bowlers.
Olivier duly paid tribute to Steyn: "It’s a massive achievement. I'm very happy for him."
It was the first time Olivier had taken five or more wickets in a Test innings and he said the influence of senior bowlers Steyn and Kagiso had played a big part in his success. "You can learn a lot from them. They bring calmness and encourage you to enjoy yourself and express yourself."
Olivier, effectively South Africa's fifth-choice fast bowler, gained his sixth Test cap following injuries to Vernon Philander and Lungi Ngidi. He was consistently hostile, especially in a seven-over spell after lunch when he ripped through Pakistan's middle order, taking three for 17.
He and the other fast bowlers subjected the Pakistan batsmen to a barrage of short-pitched deliveries, with only Babar Azam (71) batting freely against them.
"With teams from the sub-continent you’ll bowl a fair bit of short balls. It was just backing my strengths," Olivier said.
Both Olivier and Afridi felt bowlers could hold sway throughout the match.
"There was a bit of bounce and there are a few cracks which will open up with the heat," said Olivier. The first day was played in scorching heat, with the temperature reaching 39C.
"Our comeback was very good," said Afridi, 18, who is playing in his second Test. "Batting first is very good on this wicket. It is supporting the fast bowlers."
Afridi struck twice with successive deliveries, dismissing Dean Elgar and captain Faf du Plessis as South Africa lost three wickets without a run added to be floundering at 43 for four. He was particularly pleased with dismissing Du Plessis first ball with a delivery which reared off a good length and was edged to gully.
Du Plessis looked suspiciously at the pitch before leaving.
"It was extra bounce," said Afridi.
Theunis de Bruyn (29) and Temba Bavuma (38 not out) seemed to be regaining the ascendancy for South Africa as they added 69 for the fifth wicket but De Bruyn was caught behind off Amir late in the day to leave the match evenly poised.
Steyn had no further success after his record-breaking achievement. He was punished for 40 runs in four overs in his third spell of the day as Azam went on the attack while batting with the tail. Azam hit 10 of his 15 fours off Steyn, who finished with one for 66.