Six-wicket victory puts SA in series lead against Pakistan
Proteas bloom with personal milestones but captain fails to score
South Africa on Friday claimed a comprehensive six-wicket victory over Pakistan in a Boxing Day Test in Centurion that lasted only three days, giving the hosts a 1-0 lead in this three-match series.
The Proteas came into the third and final day needing 149 runs and they crossed the finish line before tea on 151/4 after 50.4 overs‚ even though they almost made a mess of things with the loss of three quick wickets towards the end.
When the winning runs were scored‚ half centurion Hashim Amla and Temba Bavuma were on unbeaten scores of 63 and 13 respectively.
South Africa lost Aiden Markram (0)‚ half centurion Elgar (50)‚ Theunis de Bruyn (10) – whose wicket is the only one of the 34 to fall to spin – and captain Faf du Plessis, who failed to score in his two innings.
Before Elgar departed‚ he shared a partnership of 119 with Amla, the highest of the match.
This was an important team victory for the Proteas, but there were a number of players who achieved significant personal milestones.
Fast bowler Duanne Olivier‚ who returned with highly impressive match figures of 11/96‚ has handed the selectors a selection headache for the second Test in Cape Town next week as he only played in this match due to the unavailability of Vernon Philander, who is fit again.
Dale Steyn became South Africa’s most successful Test bowler when he claimed his 422nd wicket in the first innings when he removed Fakhar Zaman to overtake former captain Shaun Pollock.
Steyn went on to claim two more wickets in the second innings and he will once again be a threat to the Pakistani batsmen, who are low on confidence.
Bavuma also underlined his importance to the Proteas’ middle order with a half century in the first innings to help his team to a total of 223.
Then‚ there was the return to form of premier batsman Hashim Amla, who scored his first half century in 11 innings on Friday.
He sparkled with 11 boundaries and also clocked 1,000 Test runs against Pakistan.
Kagiso Rabada was another shining light for the Proteas and he ended this Test match as the leading wicket-taker in a calendar year with 52 wickets after 10 matches following his match figures of 6/106.
There were a number of positives in this low-scoring Test match where 745 runs were scored and 34 wickets fell.
But coach Ottis Gibson will be slightly concerned with the poor form of opener Aiden Markram and Du Plessis.
As for the Pakistanis – whose board on Friday morning released a statement disputing reports of a dressing room bust-up between some players and coach Mickey Arthur – they have a lot of improving to do in all departments.
Their shining lights with the bat were Babar Azam‚ 71 in the first innings‚ and Shan Masood and Imam-ul-Haq‚ who scored 65 and 57 respectively in the second innings.
But their captain, Sarfraz Ahmed, is yet to get off the mark after two golden ducks.
Pakistan only managed to take 14 wickets in this match with Shaheen Afridi and Mohammed Amir claiming four each.