South Africa v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Cape Town, 1st day February 14, 2013

Younis and Shafiq lead recovery


Pakistan 253 for 5 (Shafiq 111*, Younis 111) v South Africa
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Pakistan cricket continues to confound. In the morning, South Africa's ruthless pack of quick bowlers ran through the opposition top order yet again and all the fears over Pakistan's brittle batting seemed to have come to pass. Younis Khan and Asad Shafiq, however, showed there was plenty of backbone in the batting by putting on Pakistan's biggest Test partnership against South Africa to even up the match on the first day in Cape Town.

Against the finest attack in the world, Younis enhanced his reputation of scoring runs when his team was in distress. The famous Younis smile was frequently on display, after particularly good deliveries - a Dale Steyn curler which beat him, a Morne Morkel bouncer which struck him on the body - and especially after completing his first Test hundred in a year.

Shafiq's century is likely to rank as the finest innings of his career so far. Initially, he wasn't in the best touch: there was a leading edge beyond mid-off, and there were several loose drives outside off which didn't connect, but he grew in confidence once the pitch started to lose its venom. After that he unveiled his strokes, uppercutting Jacques Kallis behind point for four and picking off the usually accurate Vernon Philander for two leg-side boundaries in an over.

What really allowed the Pakistan batsmen to break free was the introduction of the weak link in the South Africa attack, Robin Peterson. His job description, especially on day one, is to keep it tight while the quicks get a breather, but he couldn't quite play that role as he struggled to settle into a consistent line and length. There were far too many short balls early on and the pressure built up by the fast bowlers - who gave away only 14 runs in the first 12 overs after lunch - quickly evaporated as he gave away four boundaries in his first five overs.

Pakistan's most dominant phase came after tea, when South Africa were waiting for the second new ball. There wasn't much reverse swing on offer, and South Africa rotated Kallis, Peterson and Dean Elgar to keep their main bowlers fresh. Younis opened out, hitting a couple of straight sixes and Shafiq launched a flighted delivery well over long-on and then crashed one behind backward point as 62 runs came in the final 10 overs with the old ball.

Both batsmen reached their century just before the new ball, and Pakistan had moved along to 238 for 4 after 80 overs. Then came a critical phase of play as South Africa's attack reverted to menacing. Steyn and Philander bowled several unplayable deliveries; Philander had the ball buzzing past the outside edge and Hot Spot saved Younis against Steyn in the first over with the second new ball. It was Hot Spot that provided the evidence to end Younis' innings two overs before stumps, though, as South Africa reviewed an lbw decision, only to find that Younis had edged the ball through to the keeper.

South Africa were just as threatening in the morning. Slicing through the opposition has become so common to them that when Philander took his first wicket of the day, he barely bothered to celebrate, merely completing his follow-through as though the batsman had left the ball alone. Even wicketkeeper AB de Villiers didn't belt out an appeal or jump for joy after taking a regulation catch, merely tossing the ball aside and jogging up to Philander to congratulate him.

Once again, the fast bowlers had the ball hooping around, the purists ooh-ing and aah-ing over the late movement and the batsmen flailing outside off. Midway through the session, Pakistan were down to 33 for 4, and any attempts to forget their record low of 49 all out in Johannesburg were pointless.

For the second Test in a row, South Africa captain Graeme Smith took the unconventional decision at the toss. After choosing to bat on a difficult track in Johannesburg, he opted to bowl on a Cape Town surface that was expected to ease out after the first hour. Towards lunch, it did settle down but, as Smith hoped, serious damage had already been done.

Philander started the procession with that celebration-free wicket of Nasir Jamshed, who flirted with one outside off without moving his feet. Steyn joined in with his usual away-cutters, one of which Mohammad Hafeez nicked to first slip. Morkel then had Azhar Ali wafting outside off, to give de Villiers another simple catch before he produced another of those patented rearing deliveries that Misbah-ul-Haq could only glove to short leg for a duck.

It all seemed one-way traffic, before Younis and Shafiq led the recovery with centuries that gave South Africa's bowlers increasingly rare sessions of frustration.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • A on February 15, 2013, 11:03 GMT

    I was not expecting PAK to score 338 runs on this wicket especially after Asad's early exit in the morning. Atleast PAK bowlers will have some runs to play with which is very rear occurance for them. It will be interesting to see how SA performs in their first inning, with a lot of quality batsmen in thier team SA should be able get some lead. I highly doubt that they will make 500 plus as some one mentioned. PAK bowling although not as strong as it use to be, still has plenty of variety to make life difficult for batsmen. Not sure how this test will go, mind you PAK can still be bowled out for less than 100 in their second innings so SA has advantage over PAK.

  • Gavin on February 15, 2013, 10:55 GMT

    @Waseem Ahmad /golfclap is that the best you can come up with? Good hitting by Pak lower order to take them to 338. Its unlikely to be enough, but at least the game may go the distance now. Interesting 2 sessions coming up now with day 2 and 3 being the best for batting. The deck seems to be flattening out quite nicely for batting now. If Pak cannot hit hard with the new ball they will be fielding for a long time.

  • Naveed on February 15, 2013, 10:48 GMT

    Now a lead of 150 wud be nice nd wicket is starting to turn. Exiting times ahead for pak fans.

  • Dummy4 on February 15, 2013, 10:28 GMT

    I think this is the worst fielding unit SA ever had

  • Waseem on February 15, 2013, 9:52 GMT

    Good to see some spirited batting by some Pakistani batsmen and now from the lower order as well against the best bowling attack.

    I bet [Dis]Harmony111 is so disappointed that he has stopped watching cricket.

  • Dummy4 on February 15, 2013, 9:26 GMT

    Why is no one talking about Nelson?

  • Gavin on February 15, 2013, 9:14 GMT

    @Tripswitch dont wory about it, thts what life is like at the top, everybody else tries to pull you down. The naysayers are annoyed that their teams dont come close in quality so they try to pick holes in everything that is not perfect in the SA team. Sit back and enjoy the carnage with a smile and a beer. Chin Chin.

  • Gavin on February 15, 2013, 9:03 GMT

    and another 5 fer for Big Vern. 268 for 8. Pak crumbling here just as I predicted last night. Blah blah blah cant bowl with the old ball, you should be felling good about that as you can actually score more than 50 for a change. ALthoguh its not looking likeley to get more than 50 this morning .

  • Gavin on February 15, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    Pak cannot play the new ball yet again. 2 down in 2 overs. Angling bats to the slips, thanks for the catching practice lads. lucky to get to 300 now. SA will come and score 500 +, a lead of 250, game over by the end of day 4.

  • Janaka on February 15, 2013, 8:31 GMT

    If you rank the teams of their unpredictability, and the bounce back factor, you would find Pakistan at the top of the list... Great come back... Glad to see...