Pakistan vs South Africa, 1st Test, Day 1: How it unfolded
Welcome to the live blog coverage of day one of the first Test between Pakistan and South Africa in Karachi. Please refresh the page to get latest updates about the cricket action in the middle. Follow live ball-by-ball score here.
South Africa with the upper hand
What a turnaround this has been in the last hour. After dominating three-fourths of the day, Pakistan's batsmen have been humbled by a stellar bowling performance from South Africa. Everything they touched turned to gold as Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Keshav Maharaj figured among the wickets. Contrary to some of the soft dismissals, which were a feature of South Africa's first-innings surrender, Pakistan's batsmen were undone by dexterous bowling on a dual-paced pitch that assisted their plans.
The pressure built by Rabada's scorching spell was beginning to dwindle but Maharaj launched South Africa back in front by prising out the big fish Babar Azam. The absurd decision to bring in Shaheen as the nightwatchman resulted in another easy wicket for the Proteas. Frightening times to bank on Pakistan's batting, though Fawad Alam's fearless cut shot off Nortje would beg to differ.
South Africa have roared back into the contest to leave Pakistan reeling at 33/4 at the end of day 1 ??— Cricingif (@_cricingif) January 26, 2021
Fawad Alam and Azhar Ali are the two unbeaten batsmen ?
Review how the action unfolded throughout the day ?? https://t.co/8hjL9hdnsJ#PAKvSA #CricketForAll ???????? pic.twitter.com/P0BvTDfYuI
Overall, an engrossing day of cricket to welcome South Africa's Test return to Pakistan, and even more so an enjoyable outing if you are a bowler in one of the two camps.
27/4, where have we seen this before?!
Collapse in overdrive for Pakistan as the tactic of sending in nightwatchman Shaheen Afridi falls flat on its face. Full, fast, 'you miss I hit' from Anrich Nortje and Shaheen is too late in getting his blade down in time. One could argue Shaheen may have not been the most well-equipped batsman to deal with the outrageously superior bowling. The attempt to protect a better middle-order batsman is foiled and we are witnessing a trademark Pakistan collapse.
Pakistan's batting lynchpin falls!
Babar Azam plays down the wrong line of a Keshav Maharaj delivery just before the close of play and is declared lbw by the umpire. Scenes of jubilation for the tourists and Pakistan are stuttering here. After three centuries and one fifty at home, Babar's dream run in familiar conditions has concluded in an anticlimactic fashion. No spin from Maharaj as he smartly skids the ball that strikes Babar's front pad.
Babar Azam walks back dejected ©Getty Images
Babar knows how big his departure is in the context of Pakistan's innings, which explains his optimistic review. Hawkeye reads three damning reds and Babar's Test captaincy debut with the bat is not a memorable one.
Absorbing Test match cricket
Babar Azam and Azhar Ali are playing for their lives against some high-quality fast bowling from South Africa. No easy balls to manoeuvre through the gaps as they have to sweat hard for every run.
Kagiso Rabada's new-ball burst is followed by some prickly bowling from Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje. No glorious drives on offer as the theme of the game is survival at the moment under fading light. South Africa will already be taking consolation from the fact that Pakistan will be batting last on this deteriorating pitch.
Double damage inflicted by Rabada
This time extra bounce does the trick. The rapid pace and the two-faced surface is making it very difficult for the batters out there. Debutant Imran Butt aims to defend a rising Rabada delivery but it raps his glove and lobs up harmlessly to substitute fielder Keegan Petersen on leg-gully. Not exactly the nasty short ball one would expect from Rabada but it has done the damage and South Africa are springing a booming comeback.
Rip-roaring start for Rabada
Extraordinary ball from Kagiso Rabada with the oomph factor to the max to get rid of Abid Ali. The ball viciously swung in after pitching on a good-length and sent the off-stump cartwheeling. For someone who has not been near red-ball cricket for over a year, this is incredible stuff. Expert control over the seam to produce prodigious movement from Rabada after obscuring the batsman's judgment with a horde of outswingers. This is the start they wanted!
South Africa are restricted to 220 all out!
A splendid bowling effort from Pakistan consigns South Africa to 220 all out. Lungi Ngidi is the last man to get out as Shaheen Afridi's reintroduction pays dividends immediately.
South Africa will be plagued by the stinging sensation of regret since self-destructive tendencies impeded their charge throughout the day. Most of the batsmen got starts and looked good for their brief stays in the middle but could not kick on to make anything substantial. The two run-outs and Quinton de Kock's brain fade would hurt the visitors deeply considering those dismissals arrived at a time when the Proteas needed extended vigils from them.
Superb Yasir claims his third
A carbon copy of the ball that bamboozled Maharaj, Nortje is removed by a gorgeous flipper to leave South Africa teetering at nine down. All hopes of scampering to the vicinity of 250 on the back of lower-order heroics seem to have been quashed as Yasir returns to his sizzling best.
Two quick strikes and Pakistan continue to dominate
South Africa are unravelling quickly in the third session. After Keshav Maharaj is castled by a peach of a delivery from Yasir Shah, the tenacious George Linde is dismissed in the process of searching boundaries. Maharaj stood back to a straighter delivery that kept a touch low and razed the stumps.
Meanwhile, the lanky Linde had expertly navigated his innings with an immaculate extension of the arms and a tolerant risk-free attitude. Having grown accustomed to the stunted bounce on the docile pitch, Linde tries to pummel a pull shot on a skiddy bouncer from Hasan but top-edges it to deep midwicket.
A spark of inspiration before tea
Bavuma and Linde were fronting an impressive resistant act but their efforts have been cut short owing to some exceptional work in the field from Hasan Ali. The right-arm paceman has made up for his lack of impact with the ball by sending a bullet throw to Mohammad Rizwan to help dismiss Bavuma. Yet another untimely run-out to add onto South Africa's woes. All the progress they made in the first session has been spoiled thus far by ordinary shot selection and newfound sharpness in the field from Pakistan.
Another run-out piles onto South Africa's misery. Hasan Ali's bullet throw catches Temba Bavuma short and the tourists are 179/6 at tea.— Cricingif (@_cricingif) January 26, 2021
Follow live blog ?? https://t.co/8hjL9hdnsJ#PAKvSA #CricketForAll ???????? pic.twitter.com/wJhh83HJ5Z
More question marks over Bavuma's persistently doubted spot in the team. Despite being touted as one of the Test leadership candidates, he has been found wanting in the conviction and self-assurance to often guide his team out of misery. Proactive running between the wickets, that has largely been his positive trait, provoked his dismissal today.
South Africa would be happy to scramble to 250 given the challenging circumstances and hope for their spinners being as formidable as their counterparts.
Linde saved by DRS
Yasir Shah celebrates what was supposed to be his second wicket of the innings but the hawkeye technology does not go in his favour. George Linde is outfoxed by a faster fuller-length ball as he is adjudged lbw by umpire Aleem Dar. However, replays depict the ball missing the leg pole by quite some distance and South Africa resume their battling sixth-wicket stand.
It's the Nauman Ali show, folks!
This is turning out to be a dream debut for the 34-year-old and South Africa are whittling away to spin. The well-set Elgar is the latest victim as the Proteas' attacking approach is backfiring significantly. Another loose shot causes the downfall of a South African batsman as Elgar pushes at the ball with hard hands, edging it to captain Babar Azam in the slips.
The Proteas have half their side back in the hut now with plenty of time still remaining in the day. They have clearly been unable to cash in on the opportunity to build on the strong platform with the frequent loss of wickets post-lunch.
Overt aggression is the undoing of De Kock
Quinton de Kock can't believe what he has just done. A cardinal sin in a Test match, especially when you are three down and reeling from a steady partnership being broken. Typically aggressive, the wicketkeeper-batsman tries to dispatch a rather innocuous delivery from Nauman Ali into the midwicket region but ends up toeing it to Imran Butt in the circle.
Maybe not as difficult as the first grab, but Imran takes a fine catch to hand his fellow debutant his maiden international wicket. Awful stroke in the context of the match and Pakistan can dictate the terms here.
50 up and further acceleration
Dean Elgar spanks a boundary off Shaheen Afridi to bring up the 16th half-century of his career. He smashes another boundary in the over to stamp his authority and continues to feast on wide lines. Nothing is being spared from the bat of Elgar, who has an astounding conversion rate of over 80%. These are forbidding times for Pakistan if Elgar doesn't budge from his stubborn position.
Classic leg-spinner's dismissal!
The guile, the brilliance and the accuracy from Yasir Shah. The ball floats into the batsman's arc and then sharply turns away after spitting off the surface, managing to catch the outside edge of Faf du Plessis. The former South Africa skipper cannot make the most of the spilled chance in the previous over from Yasir and perishes while poking his bat forward. Pakistan get a vital breakthrough as Rizwan snaffles an excellent catch behind the stumps.
Chance put down in the first over after lunch!
Drama in the centre as Faf du Plessis gets a reprieve on the first ball of the second session. Yasir Shah generates prodigious turn to induce an inside edge onto the pad as the ball lobs into the air but Abid Ali on short-leg fails to gobble up a fairly easy chance.
Three deliveries later, Yasir spins it extravagantly to evade Elgar's bat and the ball travels to the boundary for four byes. The formative rough patches outside the off-stump will fascinate the leggie.
Honours shared in the first session
Terrific Test match cricket to kick off the momentous series as Elgar and du Plessis take a confident South African side to lunch unperturbed at 94/2. Elgar has been scoring quite swiftly as compared to the general perception of dogged defence surrounding his style of play. Du Plessis has been crunching the balls from the middle of his bat as the longer he stays at the crease, the more ominous will it get for Pakistan.
An even session at the National Stadium. The visitors have started briskly but lost two wickets in total— Cricingif (@_cricingif) January 26, 2021
South Africa are 94/2 after that first session in Karachi. Follow live blog ?? https://t.co/8hjL9hdnsJ#PAKvSA #CricketForAll ???????? pic.twitter.com/r4iUDANV2B
Rassie van der Dussen and Aiden Markram are the two batsmen to fall with the former's dismissal causing a bit of regret given the ugly confusion that resulted in a run-out. The hosts will be slightly concerned with Hasan Ali's lack of consistency with the new ball as he hasn't been on the top of his game yet. It is too early to bank on spinners to wreak havoc, albeit Nauman Ali's disciplined bowling shows a trustworthy candidate for maintaining a lid on the scoring rate.
First sighting of Yasir Shah today
No real threat from Pakistan's premier spinner in his first over on the opening day. Spinners are not offering much bite and turn, though that was expected on this surface upfront. It will be interesting to see how much they can disrupt the concentration of the batsmen as the day goes on.
Crisp sound off the bat of du Plessis
The compact technique of Faf du Plessis gives the impression that no ball can ever penetrate his defences. So composed and balanced at the crease, the 36-year-old is oozing class with his elegant strokes. Two marvellous boundaries off his bat already to keep the scoreboard ticking along. Mind you, he is in blazing form of late, having made a bittersweet 199 against Sri Lanka two innings ago.
A Jonty-esque dive from Rizwan!
Wonderful athleticism from Pakistan's first-choice wicketkeeper to send the energetic van der Dussen back to the pavilion. It was an atrocious mix-up between the two batsmen out in the middle as a late denial from Elgar left his partner stranded halfway down the pitch.
Having lost his bat in the process, van der Dussen tried to desperately sprint to the striker's end but he was unable to match the speed of Rizwan, who dived full-stretch to shatter the stumps. Needless wicket gifted by South Africa and now the experienced Faf du Plessis walks out to instill some stability.
Nauman Ali takes teams to the day's first drinks break
A decent over from the 34-year-old to begin his stint in international cricket. Tight wicket-to-wicket lines maintained by Nauman, also conjuring an ambitious appeal for an Lbw after the ball brushed van der Dussen's bat.
Nevertheless, South Africa earn bragging rights in the first hour, eschewing the conventional tactics of patience to put the opposition on the backfoot. It remains to be seen for how long can they can sustain this attacking display given the introduction of spin.
The Proteas are not taking their foot off the gas
The tourists reach their team 50 inside 11 overs and showing no signs of slowing down as Pakistan frantically search for consistency to peg back the scoring rate. South Africa's aggressive start is being helped by little assistance from the pitch for the hapless pacers. No real chances of creating pressure for the home side as Dean Elgar and Rassie van der Dussen are refusing to let the opposition settle in their groove.
Stunning catch to dent South Africa
Imran Butt has pulled off a blinder in the slips to remove the dangerous-looking Markram off the bowling of Shaheen Afridi. Welcome to international cricket young man!
Shaheen kept pitching it in the corridor of uncertainty and his persisting line finally yielded him a wicket as Markram can't curb his attacking instincts and jabs at the delivery. The ball was literally dying on the fielder but he dives forward to clinch it just before it touches the ground. Massive lift for Pakistan after South Africa jumped into the driving seat.
South Africa get off to a rollicking start
Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram are feasting on the wayward new-ball bowling of the returning Hasan Ali. The right-arm paceman is failing to adjust his lengths and bowling too full, resulting in glorious drives from the duo. South Africa hope to prolong this dominant hold on the proceedings until the spinners are introduced.
News from the toss and it is South Africa who claim the early victory in this duel of luck and decide to bat first. De Kock will be happy for the coin toss landing in his favour as his batsmen would be keen on making use of the flat surface early in the fray.
Pakistan hand maiden Test caps to Imran Butt and Nauman Ali while the dynamic Hasan Ali makes a comeback to the Test unit in reward for his stellar Quaid-e-Azam Trophy campaign.
Pakistan hand out maiden Test caps to opening batsman Imran Butt and left-arm spinner Nauman Ali ??— Cricingif (@_cricingif) January 26, 2021
Hasan Ali also makes a comeback to the team after 2 years! ??
South Africa are batting first after winning the toss#PAKvSA #CricketForAll ???????? pic.twitter.com/wTpZKfwHQZ
A bit of drama in the South Africa camp since they have been forced to make a last-minute change to the composition of their playing XI. Tabraiz Shamsi has been ruled out after enduring a back spasm during the warm-up as the Proteas can only field the two spinners, Keshav Maharaj and George Linde. Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi are the three pacers.
The playing XIs:
Pakistan: Abid Ali, Imran Butt, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam (c), Fawad Alam, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Faheem Ashraf, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Nauman Ali, Shaheen Afridi
South Africa: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen, Quinton de Kock (wk & c), Temba Bavuma, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje
Good morning everyone! It is a historic day in Karachi as Pakistan welcome back South Africa on its shores for the first time since 2007. A lot is at stake in this momentous clash, notwithstanding the renewed battle between two young captains - Babar Azam and Quinton de Kock - both of whom captained their respective teams against each other in the ICC U19 World Cup almost a decade ago.
The two teams are largely still stuck in the rebuilding phase, though South Africa recently experienced success at home against Sri Lanka unlike Pakistan, who enter this contest at the back of a poor run in whites. The hosts will still be confident about their chances given the spin-favourable conditions, although the visitors have expressed their eagerness to boost their slow bowling stocks as well. Catch up more of the lead-up in our match preview.