PLAYS OF THE DAY

Saturday Star - - SPORT -

MARKRAM

As in­nings of 90 go, this was as good as it gets.

It’s the cover drives that reg­is­tered gasps of awe from the crowd, but the other parts of Markram’s bat­ting were in fine fet­tle too; his de­fence was solid, he left the ball well and ran well be­tween the wick­ets.

It’s the best he’s played all sea­son and it was de­serv­ing of some­thing more.

HAMZA

All in all a solid start to his Test ca­reer.

His de­fence looked strong and he was quick to take ad­van­tage of a num­ber of loose of­fer­ings from the tourists in the hour lead­ing up to tea.

Suc­cumbed to the pres­sure cre­ated by Amir and Ab­bas after the in­ter­val, but there’s a lot to like about him and it looks like he has a bright fu­ture at the high­est level.

BALL

The ball which dis­missed Bavuma was a beauty, the de­liv­er­ies that pre­ceded it were as good from Amir.

The first of five balls to Bavuma pitched out­side leg stump, and rapped the bats­man on the right thigh; the next one flew past the out­side edge; the third Bavuma nearly played onto his stumps; the fourth was straight and blocked, and the fifth pitched back of a length, swerved away from the right han­der and caught the edge.

It was Test bowl­ing of the high­est qual­ity.

CATCH

Nifty work by Sar­fraz, fling­ing him­self to his left to poach the leg­side edge of­fered by Markram.

Fin­ished the in­nings with five catches, beat­ing the pre­vi­ous record for catches in an in­nings by a Pak­istani wick­et­keeper against South Africa, which was held jointly by Moin Khan and Ad­nan Ak­mal.

PITCH

De­spite SA be­ing bowled out on the first day, this was ac­tu­ally a pitch which did of­fer bet­ter bal­ance be­tween bat and ball.

There was no in­con­sis­tent bounce – al­though some balls kept a touch low – and no one got hit on hands or in the chest when play­ing a for­ward de­fen­sive shot.

It will quicken up to­day and Sun­day, help­ing the stroke-mak­ers (watch out for Babar Azam) – and South Africa’s quicks won’t mind bowl­ing on it ei­ther.

| Stuart Hess

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