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Proteas on top as bowlers, Aiden Markram dominate Pakistan

Aiden Markram and Hashim Amla got the Proteas to 123/2 at the end of play, underlining a dominant performance for the hosts.

South African batsman Aiden Markram raises his bat as he celebrates after scoring a half century (50 runs) during the first day of the second Cricket Test match between South Africa and Pakistan at the Newlands cricket stadium on 3 January 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - South Africa completed their dominance of day one with the bat after their bowlers started the demolition with the ball, on the morning of the second Test match at Newlands Cricket Stadium.

Aiden Markram and Hashim Amla got the Proteas to 123/2 at the end of play, underlining a dominant performance for the hosts. Markram eventually lost his wicket on the last ball of the day to a delivery that kept viciously low from Shan Masood.

Up until that point he had looked like his old self again, scoring 78 runs off 96 balls. He looked assured and confident as he drove exemplary through the covers off the back foot and front foot, allowing none of the Pakistan bowlers to dominate.

After ruthlessly dismissing Pakistan for 177 all out, Markram and opening partner Dean Elgar tore out of the blocks to reach 56 for the first wicket. Markram, a man in need of runs, batted positively and aggressively to bring up his half-century off 62 balls in 87 minutes, including 11 boundaries.

Even the impressive Muhammas Abbas could do little to emulate the South Africans with the ball. Markram was a man on a mission, to score quickly, as the South African run rate climbed to 5 runs per over.

Elgar eventually fell first to Muhammad Amir for 20, playing away from his body to a delivery that bounced more than he anticipated.

Try as they did, but the Pakistan bowlers were unable to trouble the South African batsmen in the way that their counterparts did earlier in the day. Choosing to use all four quick bowlers available to them, the Proteas blew through the Pakistan batting line up with ease and regularity.

Duanne Olivier continued to haunt Pakistan with 4/48, bringing his series tally to 15 wickets. He was ably supported by Dale Steyn (3/48), Kagiso Rabada (2/35) and Vernon Philander (1/36). It was Philander who perhaps troubled the openers the most.

As expected, the Capetonian proved too wily for them, finding the right line and length at will, but it was Steyn who got the first breakthrough. He surprised Fakhar Zaman with a steep bouncer that clipped the top of the opener’s bat and looped up to Temba Bavuma in the gully.

In the 8th over, Philander, back from injury, trapped Imam ul-Haq LBW for 8 to bring up the local hero’s 50th Test wicket at Newlands. At 13-2 Pakistan were in for a rude awakening.

Kagiso Rabada chipped in by dismissing Asad Shafiq for 20 runs, with a regulation catch at third slip by Dean Elgar.
It got worse for Pakistan as Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Barbar Azam all fell before lunch, leaving the visitors on 75/5 at lunch.

Olivier snuffed out any chance of a Pakistan fight back against a marauding Proteas attack after lunch, compounding the misery for the visitors who have had bouncers and away swingers rain down on them all day long.

Captain Sarfraz Ahmed, a man with much to prove, combined admirably with Shan Masood to put on 60 runs for the 6th wicket after lunch, until Kagiso Rabada got the breakthrough in the 33rd over thanks to a brilliant low-diving catch by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock. It was a moment that could prove crucial in the context of the Pakistan first innings and the match.

Pakistan brought up their 100 in the 31st over, in 150 minutes and 187 balls, but Masood fell six runs short of a brave half-century at a scorching Newlands Cricket Stadium on Thursday, leaving the score on 114 for 6.

Earlier the Pakistan number three watched helplessly as one-by-one Ul-Huq, Ali, Shafiq and Azam fell around him. Fortunately, his skipper Sarfraz, after not scoring in Centurion a week ago, put a heftier price on his wicket this time around, before finally perishing for 56 off 81 balls. It’s an innings that may just buy Sarfraz more time at the helm, if his team survive this series.

Olivier replaced Rabada in the 47th over and caused immediate discomfort to the Pakistan batsmen. After the important wicket of Sarfraz, Olivier bamboozled Yasir Shah with a short one that found the edge to Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis at slip.

Steyn then got in on the act with the wicket of Mohammad Abbas, caught by keeper De Kock in the 48th over. Steyn denied Olivier a chance of another fifer and took care of Shaheen Afridi who tamely steered a delivery to De Kock in the 52nd over to conclude the innings on 177 all out.

Earlier in the day South Africa’s feared bowling attack predictably had Pakistan on the ropes.
Steyn, Philander, Olivier and Rabada all claimed wickets in a relentless hail of swinging, seaming, bouncing deliveries.

South Africa’s quick bowlers extracted good lateral and vertical movement on a lively Newlands pitch. Expectations were high when Steyn and Philander opened the bowling. Both immediately beat the bat with consistency, typified by two consecutive LBW appeals from Philander against Imam ul-Haq in the fourth over.

Pakistan struggled to cope with the bounce and movement offered by South Africa’s all-out pace set up. Azhar Ali fell cheaply to Olivier.

Shan Masood and Asad Shafiq offered some resistance before the latter fell to Rabada with the score on 51.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed and Masood attempted to rebuild the innings before Masood fell six runs short of his fifty. Sarfraz completed his half-century, with 56 off 81 balls, before he too fell to Olivier.