Proteas struggle on day one against Pakistan

TRISTAN HOLME
Last updated 08:13 02/02/2013
Junaid Khan
Getty Images
GOT 'EM: Junaid Khan celebrates the wicket of Alviro Petersen on day one of the first test.

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Seemingly oblivious to South Africa's celebrations of Graeme Smith's 100th test as captain, Pakistan stole the show by bowling out the Proteas for 253 on day one of the first test.

On Smith's 32nd birthday, the Wanderers crowd was expecting a dominant showing from its long-serving leader, only for Pakistan offspinner Mohammad Hafeez to be the unexpected star.

Hafeez took two key middle-order wickets before making short work of the tail to finish with figures of 4-16. He then opened the batting and scored all of Pakistan's runs as the tourists closed on 6 without loss.

The hype in the buildup to the test had centered around Smith, who led South Africa for the 99th time, having also captained a World XI in a test against Australia in 2005.

Yet after Smith won the toss and elected to bat on a sunny day, Pakistan's bowlers overcame an indifferent start to grab the initiative and claim six wickets in the final session.

All of South Africa's top six batsmen made starts, yet Jacques Kallis' 50 was the highest score on the day due to a combination of reckless shots and Pakistani persistence.

Although Pakistan's fast bowlers were slow to find their lengths in a wicketless opening hour, they adapted to the conditions and dismissed both Smith and his opening partner, Alviro Petersen, in the space of five deliveries.

Kallis and Hashim Amla stabilised the innings, then counterattacked after the lunch break, but Pakistan's bowlers maintained their control and found excellent support from their fielders to break a crucial stand.

First, Kallis was superbly caught by a diving Asad Shafiq at deep midwicket after taking on a clever bouncer from Umar Gul, and then Amla, on 37, lashed a Younis Khan delivery to gully where he was well held by Azhar Ali.

"We always think that we have to do something special in the field and everyone tries to give 100 percent," Hafeez said. "The bowlers really showed discipline with the ball, and then the whole fielding side really backed them up."

South Africa fought back with a 64-run stand between AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis, only for Hafeez to enter the attack in the 71st over and have De Villiers caught behind with his very first delivery.

"The position we were in at 199 for four we should have got more runs," Du Plessis said. "AB and myself had a good partnership going and I don't know exactly how many we got for the last six wickets but it definitely wasn't enough runs from the bottom six (batsmen)."

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Du Plessis played on off Junaid Khan shortly after to depart for 41, before South Africa's lower order folded quickly in the face of the second new ball, adding just 23 runs for the final four wickets.

"I think things did work, but to be honest credit goes to the (other) bowlers because they really restricted South Africa in a crucial period," Hafeez said. "We were taking wickets at the right time and putting them under pressure.

"I got a success, but I think it should be for all the bowlers."

Pakistan was left with a tricky two overs to face at the end of the evening session, but Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed comfortably survived to make it the visiting team's day.

Meanwhile, as a 9000-strong crowd filtered out of the Wanderers, it was left to wonder whether the hype around Smith had proved a distraction.

"I don't think so," Du Plessis said. "The first thing Graeme did was he made a very serious point that this day was not about him, so we needed to focus on our goals.

"For me, what it shows with all the starts (by the batsmen) is that there's something in the wicket, so when you get to 30 you can't just go on and score big runs."

- AP

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