Pakistan A v South Africans, Sharjah, 2nd day October 9, 2013

Shehzad impresses with fluent fifty

Pakistan A 230 for 4 (Shehzad 66, Morkel 1-13) trail South Africans 354 for 8 declared (Kallis 70, Maqsood 1/17) by 124 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

South Africa's bowlers will hope the surface they toiled on in Sharjah will not resemble the pitches on which they will play the two-Test series. Although a few deliveries kept low, the conditions assisted neither spinners nor the seamers and it was nothing but a grind for the tourists.

The South Africans took the field with ice jackets and cooling necklaces. Dale Steyn wore the former while the other was passed between players at intervals throughout the afternoon, to combat the 37-degree heat and high humidity. They also rotated stints in the field with all players allowed a break for a period of time.

Pakistan A got some value out of the day, doing what captain Umar Amin wanted by batting it out to "give South Africa something to think about" and allowing openers Ahmed Shehzad and Shan Masood, as well as the national No.3 Azhar Ali, to bring up half-centuries.

Shehzad's may be the most important because it would allowed him to announce himself as the prime candidate to partner Khurram Manzoor in the first Test next week. Pakistan have yet to pick another opener after dropping Mohammad Hafeez and will likely select someone from the A side. Shehzad, who is uncapped in the longest format and is just 21 years old, showed he may be the man for the job.

He was expressive against the spinners and fluent against the South African seamers, all four of whom bowled within themselves to avoid tiring out. Shehzad was particularly strong through the off side and on the drive, and was dismissed due to a lack of temperament rather than being outfoxed.

With Robin Peterson keeping things tight, Shehzad tried to loft him over a strategically placed short mid-wicket but offered the fielder a simple chance. That was the South Africans only wicket of the middle session with the focus being on lines and accuracy.

Steyn bowled below pace, Morkel found some bounce and was the only one of the trio to take a wicket when Faisal Iqbal was caught at slip, but it was Vernon Philander who looked the most threatening. His accurate line outside the off stump proved as successful, not in wicket-taking but in problem-causing terms, as it has elsewhere in the world. The bowlers operated in short spells through the afternoon and allowed the spinners to dominate proceedings later on.

Tahir was expensive, especially in his first spell. Too many variations and a bouquet of full tosses threatened to derail the legspinner, especially with Shehzad and then Azhar using their feet well.

Masood's half-century was well-paced and he chose to retire after reaching the landmark. Azhar's fifty was more eye-catching; he was patient upfront, with just 12 runs from his first 33 balls, but grew in confidence later on.

His retirement allowed captain Umar Amin a stint at the crease. With a place in the senior side at stake, Amin showed his ability to hold fort as the day drew to a close. The captains had agreed to enforce declarations after the 100-over mark and with 22 overs left in the Pakistan A innings, South African captain Graeme Smith will have a last chance to bat before the first Test.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent