Hash takes Proteas home

Amla half-cen­tury helps South Africa to six-wicket vic­tory in first Test

Weekend Witness - - Sport -

“HASH” is back. And the Proteas are smil­ing with their fans.

Hashim Amla struck an un­beaten half-cen­tury as South Africa brushed aside some early alarms to record a six-wicket vic­tory over Pak­istan on Day Three of the first Test at Cen­tu­rion Park yes­ter­day.

Chas­ing a mod­est 149 to win in test­ing bat­ting con­di­tions, Amla took his side home shortly be­fore tea on 63 not out to re­dis­cover his form with a sec­ond half-cen­tury in his last 14 in­nings.

He put on 119 for the sec­ond wicket with the gritty opener Dean El­gar (50) to lay the plat­form for the win, though both sur­vived early scares as Pak­istan’s seam­ers cre­ated im­mense pres­sure on a wicket that showed both side­ways move­ment and vari­able bounce.

The sec­ond Test be­gins in Cape Town on Jan­uary 3 with the se­ries to con­clude in Jo­han­nes­burg on Jan­uary 11.

“It was a good Test match and a good one to win in terms of the se­ries,” South Africa cap­tain Faf du Plessis said.

“We needed a bit of luck on a wicket like this one. It was chal­leng­ing, the first two hours was proper Test cricket.

“The Pak­istan bowlers were bowl­ing re­ally well and we felt like we were go­ing nowhere.

“But I’m re­ally chuffed for Hashim, he looked like he was mov­ing nicely and that is al­ways a good sign.”

Start­ing their sec­ond in­nings chase un­der gloomy skies af­ter overnight rain, South Africa opener Ai­den Markram was trapped leg be­fore wicket by Hasan Ali (1-39) for a duck be­fore the home side had a run on the board.

Pak­istan bowled with skill and ac­cu­racy, and beat the bat on numer­ous oc­ca­sions as Amla was dropped on eight at third slip by Fakhar Za­man.

Pak­istan’s ir­ri­ta­tion grew when mo­ments later they thought they had El­gar caught at first slip when he was on four.

Seamer Sha­heen Afridi (1-53) in­duced the edge that looked to have been gob­bled up by Azhar Ali. El­gar be­gan walk­ing to­wards the dress­ing room, but was called back when the on-field um­pires con­ferred over whether the catch had been taken.

It was sent to third um­pire Joel Wil­son with a soft sig­nal of “out”, which called for con­clu­sive ev­i­dence for the de­ci­sion to be over­turned.

With only the two-di­men­sional im­ages avail­able, the West In­dian de­cided there was enough doubt to change the de­ci­sion.

It was a po­ten­tially game-chang­ing mo­ment in the in­nings with South Africa on 16-1 at the time and strug­gling.

El­gar and Amla cap­i­talised on that good for­tune and both would go on to make half-cen­turies in a stand that would last 40 overs.

El­gar (50) then handed a first Test wicket to Pak­istan part-timer Shan Ma­sood when he had a swipe at a loose de­liv­ery and was caught by wick­et­keeper Sar­fraz Ahmed.

The­u­nis de Bruyn (10) was stumped off Yasir Shah (1-20) try­ing to fin­ish the game with quick runs and Du Plessis recorded a pair of ducks in the match when he at­tempted a hook off Afridi and was caught at fine leg.

Pak­istan skip­per Ahmed fo­cused on his side’s poor bat­ting, where they failed to pass 200 in ei­ther in­nings and lost their last nine wick­ets for 90 runs af­ter tea on day two, as the ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to their de­feat.

“We are very dis­ap­pointed in the bat­ting, we had an op­por­tu­nity to post a [big­ger] tar­get and we lost too many wick­ets in that ses­sion af­ter tea,” he said.

“We have good qual­ity fast bowlers, but we have to put scores on the board. We will have to go away and work hard ...”

— Reuters.

PHOTO: GALLO

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