First Test Match

Pakistan v South Africa

Test debuts: Ali Naqvi, Azhar Mahmood, Mohammad Ramzan.

The South Africans took an early advantage and entertained thoughts of victory when Pakistan hobbled to 216 for six on the first day. The truth, however, was soon as bald as the pitch. The bounce was like an old tennis ball on clay, there was no moisture to assist movement, and the clay would not even crack. The contest died, but it was still a memorable Test match, with two of Pakistan's three newcomers taking the starring roles. Ali Naqvi and Azhar Mahmood became the first pair of same-team debutants to score centuries in the same Test.

Naqvi, a 20-year-old opener, stormed to 25 from as many balls on the opening morning before sense and his partners' misfortunes forced him to calm down. He batted on into the evening for his hundred. Congratulations were soon followed by withering sideways glances when, with two overs to go, he rashly slashed at Donald and departed for 115, to be replaced by all-rounder Mahmood. Resuming after a rainy morning, Moin Khan and Saqlain Mushtaq were both lbw, and Pakistan were 231 for eight. South Africa had excelled themselves on a batsman's track.

The last two wickets, however, all but doubled the score. Waqar Younis hit two sixes (including a hook off Donald) and five fours in a Test-best 45 but mostly blocked stoutly, while Mahmood was virtually unnoticeable in his orthodox efficiency. When Waqar fell, though, and last man Mushtaq Ahmed joined him, the accumulator turned aggressor, and Mahmood struck several thumping extra-cover drives, off front and back feet. On the third morning, the last pair added another 111 delicious runs. Mahmood finished unbeaten on 128, his maiden first-class century, after 349 minutes, having struck 11 fours and a six. Mushtaq also gorged on the carcass of South Africa's shocked attack, lifting off-spinner Symcox for three sixes and a four in one over, on his way to a maiden Test fifty. Between them, they added 151 to equal the tenth-wicket Test record of New Zealanders Brian Hastings and Richard Collinge, who kept Pakistan waiting in Auckland in 1972-73.

Eight sessions remained and Kirsten set out to bat time, not runs. He was still there at the close, though Saqlain had Bacher well caught at silly point by the third debutant, Mohammad Ramzan. Kirsten went on to bat almost seven hours, virtually assuring the draw, until, two short of his hundred, he edged one of the rare deliveries from Saqlain that turned above ambient pace and bounced as well. At tea, Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, taking part in Pakistan's 50th anniversary celebrations, met the two teams, cheered by a 15,000-strong crowd that had been admitted free; it was the only time the ground held more than 700 placid spectators.

Having conceded a deficit of 53, Cronje and his bowlers succeeded in their only possible target: to put them under pressure and win a few psychological points. Pakistan slipped to 80 for five before the determined Mahmood closed the door with an unbeaten fifty.

Man of the Match: Azhar Mahmood.

Close of play: First day, Pakistan 216-6 (Moin Khan 8*, Azhar Mahmood 4*); Second day, Pakistan 345-9 (Azhar Mahmood 72*, Mushtaq Ahmed 6*); Third day, South Africa 139-1 (G. Kirsten 62*, J. H. Kallis 20*); Fourth day, South Africa 359-6 (S. M. Pollock 35*, D. J. Richardson 30*).

© John Wisden & Co