The Castle Lager Proteas’ batsmen took advantage of an ideal batting opportunity on the opening day of their three- day tour match against Pakistan “A” at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Tuesday. The main batsmen, bar Graeme Smith, all scored half-centuries to take the Proteas to 331 for three at stumps.
Alviro Petersen (57 retired out), Hashim Amla (50 retired out), Jacques Kallis (60), AB de Villiers (58) and JP Duminy (49 not out) all spent a substantial amount of time at the crease and achieved the pre-match objectives the batsmen set for themselves.
“We wanted everyone to get a chance to get some time in the middle and fortunately everyone managed that, we are quite pleased with that,”Amla said at stumps. Amla is not concerned about Smith's early departure, and says the captain will be prepared come the first Test.
The Proteas were sent into bat in tricky early morning conditions, a decision Smith welcomed at the toss. The skipper was the only victim to fall to the early nip, when he was given out lbw for 2 in the seventh over. Batting conditions eased under the baking heat, with the batsmen taking full advantage of the inexperienced Pakistan bowlers with expansive strokeplay, especially against the spinners.
“They bowled quite well,” Amla said. “The first session was difficult to score in and the outfield was slow so it made it even harder. Fortunately, Alviro and I hung around for a while and it got easier to bat.
“It was a good batting deck,” he said of the conditions. “It looked like it was turning towards the end of the day, so maybe it will turn tomorrow and on the last day. From a seamers’ perspective it was quite nice to face.”
The Pakistan “A” bowlers toiled hard and were made to pay for their inconsistency. Ehsan Adil (1/52), Usman Qadir (1/80) and Sohaib Maqsood (1/17) were the wicket-takers for the home side.
Duminy (49 not out) and Faf du Plessis (23 not out) will resume the innings on Wednesday with 10 overs left to bat in the innings. The Proteas will be forced to declare at 100 overs, with Robin Peterson and Vernon Philander the only recognised batsmen still to get a chance.
The fact that the Proteas have batted first means that they have a good chance of getting a lengthy second innings as well.