Emerging Cape Cobras v Pakistanis, Cape Town, 1st day February 10, 2013

Impressive Irfan makes case for Test debut


Pakistanis 127 for 4 (Misbah 44*, Bothma 2-19) trail Emerging Cape Cobras 156 (Kleinveldt 36, Irfan 4-20) by 29 runs

Pakistan's seven-foot-plus seamer Mohammad Irfan made a strong case for a Test debut in a two-day match against the Emerging Cape Cobras, taking four wickets. The ten-day break between the first and second Test gave the touring team time to fit in another practice match and try different combinations ahead of the second Test in Cape Town which starts on Thursday.

The opposition is made up of players who feature in the provincial competition - still regarded as first-class but not franchise cricket - and are of a similar composition to the team that got a run against the New Zealanders late last year. Notable among them are Matthew Kleinveldt, cousin of Rory, Sybrand Engelbrecht who has played some franchise cricket and left-arm spinner Siya Simetu.

But they were no match for the Pakistani attack despite the visitors resting Umar Gul and Junaid Khan and were bundled out for 156. The visitors gave their bench strength including Tanvir Ahmed and Ehsan Adil some match time, along with Rahat Ali, who debuted at the Wanderers. Rahat was economical and incisive and took 2 for 27 but Irfan stole the show.

Irfan broke a 62-run stand between Kleinveldt and Keegan Petersen to spark a mini-collapse. The emerging Cape Cobras lost four wickets for 23 runs and their middle-and lower-order could not stand up to the Pakistani attack.

Irfan took 4 for 20 while Abdur Rehman spun his way to 3 for 31. Tanvir was expensive but Ehsan also kept the run-rate low and could present Pakistan with another option for the second Test. Sarfraz Ahmed had another solid showing behind the stumps and took three catches and a stumping.

They will still have concerns about their batting though. The openers did not manage to negotiate the new ball as Misbah-ul-Haq would have wanted them to when he identified that as the main area for Pakistan to work on in the break. With Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed both allowed to put their feet up, Imran Farhat was given a run but made just 11.

Azhar Ali was promoted to the top, presumably so he could spend time against the new ball, but he too did not last long. A 48-minute 11 is all he had to show. Younis Khan's lean run continued and at 29 for 3, the Pakistanis would have been biting their fingernails with worry. Johannes Bothma, a 24-year-old quick from Boland, had two of the three scalps.

Faisal Iqbal, who did not play in the first Test, showed some fight with a sprightly 33 but it was down to the captain and Asad Shafiq who remain at the crease overnight. Because the match is not an official first-class game, both sides can field 13 players and the Pakistanis may consider giving Hafeez, in particular, and Jamshed batting time on the second day.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Suraj on February 11, 2013, 16:33 GMT

    Proud of our Bowling Unit now its time for Batsmen to Improve during 2nd Test.My Playing XI: Hafeez, Jamshed, Azar, Younis, Misbah, Shafiq, Sarfaraz, Gul, Irfan, Ehsan, Junaid...All the Best Pakistan.Come On Green Army Come on....

  • Tahir on February 11, 2013, 16:02 GMT

    Bowling is the main strength that Pakistan have so they should choose a bowling attack that can leave a lasting impression. Pakistan batting does not seem to be coming together even during the next two tests while bowlers are capable of giving memobarable figures. I think Pakistan attack can be Umergul, Irfan, Ehsan Adil, ajmal and rehman. The other team can be sarfraz as keeper then younis, misbah, asad, hafeez and faisal iqbal.

  • Stark on February 11, 2013, 16:01 GMT

    OH NO!!

    Iqbal and Farhat didn't do too badly in this practice match, meaning if a batsmen is injured/dropped then one of the two parchi players will a get chance to play and that would be very unfair on players, who have performed very well at FC level.

    Why don't the selectors just quickly induct Alam, Umar or Yasin to the test squad?!?!

  • Furqan on February 11, 2013, 15:53 GMT

    My playing XI for 2nd test : 01) Hafeez. 02) Nasir Jamshed. 03) Imran Farhat. 04) Younis Khan. 05) Misbah. 06) Asad Shafiq. 07) Sarfraz Ahmed. 08) Umar Gul. 09) Junaid Khan. 10) Irfan. 11) A. Rehman. Should Azhar out for Farhat and rahat out for Irfan and pls dont surprise for Ajmal bcoz he is handy bowler in subcontinent and supporting pitches i self beleive he is not able to tak wickets against SA but i personally feel A. Rehman much better danger than Ajmal specially against South african batting in their home conditions i should want to pick him in XII for second test and Pakistan will win second test with this combination. Good Luck Pak and specially to selectors for choose right options for 2nd test if they want to win

  • Yasir on February 11, 2013, 15:13 GMT

    gsingh7->I guess you forgot that he played FC matches in Pakistan & there was no such fitness problem to him there..Just by hearing about his height,people start commenting how unfit Irfan is for test matches.If we never give him a chance in international test match,how are we gonna know about his fitness..

  • A on February 11, 2013, 14:44 GMT

    I still cant believe some people comments posted here like Misbah is a bad captain (funny enough he is one of the most successful test captain from Pak in recent times), Ajmal was not attacking enough, Irfan should have played (although there is a big question mark on his test fitness level and result would not have been any different). Well what about SA was the better team and played well throughout the test? They are number 1 team who has defeated previous number 1 in their own back yard and Defeated Aus recently.They have four top batsmen in Smith, Amla, Kallis, AB and 3 top bowlers in Steyn, Philander and Morkel. Any team which has atleast 7 top players in the world will most likely to win. Saying that despite Pak performance in SA, they are match enough for anyteam in the world on slow wickets. As I said few times before the series, if Pak manages to draw even one test, it's good enough result at this stage of Pak cricket.

  • Dummy4 on February 11, 2013, 14:02 GMT

    I guess Irfan's fitness always troubled him and in a test match it might prove itself to be decisive. Well! Aizaz Cheema wasn't a bad bet but no worries. For my liking! we need another opener-esque batsman at number 7 if in case a second new ball is required. Younis must come after Misbah. Azhar needs some much needed rest. Because here on these wickets one needs some fire power too otherwise hanging on one end for say 70-80 balls with a solitary single digit score won't help any cause. Professor and Jamshed should be followed by Misbah, Shafiq and Younis Khan. Keeper-man has been listless with bat and see that AB proved as a trump card for Saffers. Gul, Rehman, Ajmal, Junaid and Irfan for my liking is a more sensible bet in the lower order.I think many times over and over again an extra batsman never won matches for Pakistan. So 5 specialists bowlers is a better bet.

  • Dummy4 on February 11, 2013, 13:35 GMT

    irfan performing well......should given a chance..on the other side there is lack of batting .....younus azhr and hafeez should perform well in 2nd test........asad is now on his way.....well wishes for pak team for 2nd test.....

  • Sheraz on February 11, 2013, 13:06 GMT

    its not such a great shock that the cobras are out for 78. if you look at the full scorecard on cricinfo, right at the bottom it says 'innings limited to 39 overs by agreement' so in actual fact, this is not test preparation but something between T20 and ODI....

  • RankPace on February 11, 2013, 12:26 GMT

    Shocks Galore !!! Now from the practice match I understand that Younis is opening in the 2nd innings because of injury to Nasir Jamshed. The batsmen are getting injured in lots. What ever is left in the batting is shrinking quickly.