PLAYS OF THE DAY
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.
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.
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.
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.
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