A brilliant fight back led by veteran batsman Younis Khan helped Pakistan reach a respectable total of 253 for 5 at the close of play on the first day of the second Sunfoil Test at Sahara Park Newlands on Thursday.
Younis added 219 for the fifth wicket with Asad Shafiq after the tourists had been reduced to 33 for 4 in the 17th over after being put in to bat by Protea’s captain Graeme Smith.
Both batsmen survived a barrage of probing fast bowling but eventually blossomed to reach centuries and repair another potentially disastrous position for their country having been dismissed for just 49 in the first Test at The Wanderers last week.
Proteas seamer, Vernon Philander says the second new-ball will be crucial on the second morning as the hosts try to bowl the visitors out.
“Newlands always offers a bit in the morning,” Philander said after the opening days play. “Luckily we have a 10 over old ball so hopefully we can make it work for us in the morning (Friday) and knock them over.”
Younis finally perished in the 88th over of the day when an inside edge against Philander cannoned into his pad before just carrying to AB de Villiers behind the stumps. His 111 came from 226 balls and contained seven fours and three sixes all against spinner Robin Peterson. It was his 21st Test century.
Shafiq survived until the end of the day and will resume on 111 in the company of wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed.
There was little sign of a Pakistan revival when Philander removed opener Nasir Jamshed (3) with a catch to de Villiers and Dale Steyn removed Mohammed Hafeez (17) via a catch to Smith at first slip.
Azhar Allie edged Morne Morkel to de Villiers for four and captain Misbah-Ul-Haq could only fend a Morkel bouncer to Dean Elgar at short leg before he had scored. With 45 minutes to go to lunch and just 33 runs on the board, Pakistan’s situation seemed worse than precarious.
Philander defended Smith’s decision to bowl first, saying that conditions allowed for the decision.
“There was a bit of overcast conditions this morning,” he said. “There was a bit of rain around and normally at Newlands you tend to bowl first when there is a bit of cloud cover. That certainly helped to make his choice this morning.”
“We have to take 10 wickets, irrespective of the conditions,” he added. “I still believe it was the right choice, we knocked over four wickets quite quickly. Younis and Shafiq obviously batted really well.”