Pakistan A v South Africans, tour match, Sharjah October 8, 2013

Top order keeps South Africans solid


South Africans 332 for 5 (Kallis 70, de Vlliers 58, Petersen 58) v Pakistan A

Four of South Africa's top five strolled to half-centuries against Pakistan A in Sharjah on a surface reminiscent of the ones they played the two Test series on in 2010 for its lifelessness. JP Duminy threatened to extend that feat as he finished the first day on an unbeaten 49. The odd man out was captain Graeme Smith, who needed the match time the most, but was dismissed for 2.

After Pakistan A put the South Africans in to bat, in conditions Umar Amin said he thought would be helpful because of early moisture, they were almost rewarded in the fifth over. Smith was dropped at first slip after prodding awkwardly at an Ehsan Adil delivery. It only took two overs more before the seamer was rewarded. He had Smith out lbw with South Africa on just 8.

That was the only joy the Pakistan A attack had until much later in the day. Alviro Petersen and Hashim Amla displayed Test-match temperament against a disciplined Pakistan pace attack. They collected runs leisurely - Petersen strong on the drive while Amla enjoyed the cut shot past point - and by lunch they had settled in nicely.

The first hour of the middle session was profitable for both. They scored quickly against Pakistan's spinners, who posed little threat early on, with both bringing up half-centuries before retiring.

Jacques Kallis took over from where they left off and played with unusual aggressiveness upfront. His pinpoint straight drives did not seem to be the shots of a man who has not played any cricket since the IPL. AB de Villiers was more circumspect but soon found his stride as well, as the Pakistan attack grew more weary.

The South African batsmen added 134 runs in the second session and did not lose a single wicket. Kallis and de Villiers returned after tea and seemed ready to bat out the day, but careless shots got the better of them. Kallis offered a simple return catch to Sohaib Maqsoob, which looked the stroke of a heat exhausted man, while de Villiers mistimed a pull to mid-wicket, where Umar Amin was ready to take the catch.

That gave Usman Qadir, the son of Abdul who has acted as a mentor to South Africa's legspinner, Imran Tahir, his first wicket in the match. The younger Qadir found significant turn as the afternoon wore on, although he, like the other spinners, was expensive.

The South Africans will take confidence from the way their line-up dealt with the turn, with the lower middle-order also handling it with relative ease. JP Duminy continued to show how well he has recovered from time out of the game, and swept at will, while Faf du Plessis took his time to get in and played slowly, but with attention to detail.

The teams have agreed an enforced declarations after 100 overs which will give Duminy and du Plessis, and perhaps Robin Peterson, just 10 overs more batting time. Then it will be the turn of the bowlers to see what impact they can make on a surface that is not offering much in the heat, which the South Africans are still adjusting to.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Muhammad on October 9, 2013, 8:10 GMT

    Good solid start by Pakistan A. They should try to score a bit faster to keep the scoreboard ticking. Actually it makes sense to play slowly as both these openers are trying to cement their place in Pakistan team.

  • Andrew on October 9, 2013, 6:09 GMT

    Pakistan need to get a solid batting lineup- but they can only get that with faith in their batsmen ... Kallis had an improving average of 22 after 7 tests ... He was kept because of his allround ability although he wasn't really performing with either at that stage ... Now look where Kallis is ... Pakistan also need to have more time on the UAE pitches otherwise they will be away games for them ...

  • Android on October 8, 2013, 22:58 GMT

    Guys who r criticising on umer amin decesion to field it was not his decsn it was team managemnt's so please take it easy.. We have selection problms we have nepotism n fvrtism Umr akml nasir jam must be there

  • Muhd on October 8, 2013, 21:45 GMT

    What a silly decision by the captain Umer Amin & the Team Management to field first! We had been talking a lot about our batting weaknesses against South Africans, and when a golden opportunity came for a useful batting practice against them, look what they have done! Now, SA will gain valuable batting practice in alien environments twice in this 3-day game, whereas we may get only one (in view of 100 overs per innings). What Moin Khan & Company are doing? At least put some sense in the new guys if they are not experienced. Now all Pak bowlers & fielders must be cursing the captain's decision (as they toiled the whole day in sweltering heat) and batsmen must be grieving for lost opportunity. If this is the beginning, what we can expect when the actual tour starts?

  • Krishna on October 8, 2013, 21:23 GMT

    On one hand Pakistan is holding up all the cards for the big occasion and SA is bringing all guns for practice...Only time will tell who will be successful but Watch out Pakistan Kallis is going to be the key in this test series.

  • shafiq on October 8, 2013, 19:44 GMT

    @Prasanna_310 couldn't of said it better myself, complete and utter joke Umar Akmal not being in the team and not even being in the A team what is that all about.

    Nepotism is alive and well in Pakistan team selection, how any selectors can ignore Haris Sohail, Taufeeq, Fawad Alam and Jamshed is just a joke.

  • asad on October 8, 2013, 18:42 GMT

    With the way this practice match is going it was really expected. Definitely the best test team wouldn't struggle against very in experienced players that form the A team. It's good for Pakistan A team as well that they are getting a chance to play against the best team. The problem is that Umar Amin already made a mistake as a captain. He should have definitely decided to bat first if he won the toss. He knows that Pakistan always have trouble chasing and the main point of this match was for Pakistan to add batsmen in the squad not bowlers. They already have enough bowlers. Now the Pakistan A team will likely only get one chance to bat not 2. Also Pak A should have had Akbar instead of Faisal and Ahmed Jamal instead of Cheema. And more importantly Pak A could have selected Umar Akmal, Haris Sohail and Fawad Alam and all of these 3 would have performed and strengthened Pak batting line up. From the current team I think and hope 3 of Ahmed Shehzad, Sohaib Maqsood, Asad Shafiq and Rizwan

  • des on October 8, 2013, 18:05 GMT

    Good batting practice for SA, Kallis was surprisingly aggressive against the spinners. Thought he'd be a bit tentative in his first game for a while but he looks quite 'up for it'. I know teams often like more than one practice match but I'm glad there's only one as I can't wait for the tests to begin... it's been too long!

  • Android on October 8, 2013, 17:37 GMT

    Guys i think u still didnt get it! Behind all this is our So called Team Manager Moin Khan who only got to Lead Pakistan team at the end of his Era! And everyone knows why he kept his place in team. because he was wasim bhai favourite and also because he could bat at the end other then that he was worse keeper then Kamran Akmal!!

    And rite now all he is doing keeping people happy who are in power so newphews cousins and sons of management and Ex players so that he can keep his job!

    i just dont get it why they are keeping jamshed ,shahzad and Umar akmal out of team! they are the one who won matches for us against india west indies single handed and against zimbabwe the way Ahmad Shehzad batted thry should have given him a chance!

  • Dummy4 on October 8, 2013, 16:38 GMT

    Unless Misbah and Younis perform with the bat Pakistan will struggle to be competitive even on these docile pitches. Robbie P at 8 and Vern at 9 demonstrates the strength in batting. Pakistan will do well to share the series in my opinion.

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