The oscillatory first Test between Pakistan and South Africa has considerably swung in the favor of the hosts. Being 33 for 4 after undoing South Africa for 220 on a 14-wicket first day, Pakistan needed some steely resolve and meticulous approach on the next day to claw their way back into the game, and Fawad Alam and Azhar Ali gave them just that.
Things were not even a quarter as happening as they were for South Africa during the final stages of day one. The treacherous bounce that was scaring Pakistan at the stroke of stumps yesterday was barely for the taking for the visitors, and it was thanks to the tenacity shown by both the batsmen, who cautiously navigated on the road of recovery in what was a wicket-less first session for their opponents.
Pakistan’s steely resolve in a wicket-less session
Kagiso Rabada, so effective yesterday, erred a tad bit which – according to Wasim Akram on air – was due to his quest of getting the old Kookaburra to reverse. While there was an odd hint of reverse swing during the first session, Rabada’s fallacy, perhaps, was the line that he opted to exploit the swing from.
Pakistan managed no more than a single boundary during a sedate first hour of play, but that only highlighted their plan of biding their time in the middle. And with the track not showing as many demons, they went about to achieve without too many jitters.
There was an odd moment when luck favored the hosts as Fawad Alam was given a life as Dean Elgar failed to grab a sharp chance in the slip off Maharaj and de Kock was guilty of dropping Faheem Ashraf later in the day. Pakistan was far better than their rivals in tackling the spinners, and in doing that, Alam had laid the foundation of a gritty knock as Pakistan went to lunch at 104/4.
Some reprieve for the visitors
The 94-run stand for the fifth wicket had thoroughly toiled the bowlers, although they were reprieved early in the second session when Azhar Ali, having just reached his half-century, perished to Maharaj, as he opted to cut the spinner on a delivery that was too full for the shot.
Mohammad Rizwan entered to bat in a testing phase where the old ball was reversing enough, and there was a fair bit of turn on offer for Keshav Maharaj. Though, refusing to submit against the odds, Rizwan got himself going through a couple of cracking drives and flicks off Ngidi.
It was not a day for South Africa with the reviews – they unsuccessfully reviewed a couple of calls in the first session and the third, too, went in futility as Quinton de Kock’s adventurous lbw review off Ngidi reaped nothing favorable. The partnership had swollen to 55, and just when Rizwan seemed to have adopted Fawad Alam’s ploy of unwavering grit and resilience, he tentatively poked Ngidi’s length delivery outside off and edged it to the first slip at the stroke of Tea.
Fawad Alam, Faheem Ashraf keep Proteas at bay
Having planted his roots deeply, and accomplished during the day with patience (something he has no dearth of), the last session was no different for Alam. By the third session, it was clear it was Pakistan to whom the day had to belong. Alam and Ashraf added 102 for the seventh wicket, and though the latter’s stay at the crease was slightly contrasting to his partner (Ashraf scored at a strike rate above 75), he did well to take his team ahead of South Africa’s tally and beyond.
To his luck, Ashraf was given a life by skipper de Kock, and in all fairness, he made them pay. He picked a couple off boundaries early in his innings, and once dropped, his patience diminished. Ashraf raced to his half-century and his counterattacking punch ended by Nortje’s yorker that rolled back to his stumps after hitting his bat.
While Ashraf’s manner of dismissal was disappointing, what was not disappointing at all was the immaculate exhibition of Test batsmanship by Fawad Alam, who took a fairly long time in the 90s before finally reaching the triple figures. Having braved the opponent bowlers the entire day valorously, it was a break-free moment for Alam when he lofted Maharaj over long-on for a six to reach his third Test century.
Though his 245-ball stay came to an end 9 runs later, when he flicked Ngidi straight to midwicket, he ensured that Pakistan ended the day in a position least would have thought a day before: 88 runs ahead with 2 wickets still in hand.
Here are the best tweets
What a gratifying story. Every time I see Fawad Alam score runs, my heart rejoices. 10 years denied him will never be returned, but all we can do is celebrate these apogee moments with him. Well played; #Fawadever👏👏👏.
— Ian bishop (@irbishi) January 27, 2021
Another 100 by @iamfawadalam25. So I'd like to know who will be answerable for not selecting him all these years?
Great determination! #FawadAlam
— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) January 27, 2021
Fawad Alam has 3 centuries in Tests
First 100 vs SL when the trail was 150 and Pakistan were bowled out for 90 in the first inns. Second 100 vs NZ when Pakistan were 37-3 chasing 373. Third 100 vs South Africa after Pakistan were 27-4. #fighterbatsman
— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) January 27, 2021
When players like Fawad Alam scores, cricket becomes more beautiful, he waited for a Test spot more than a decade after his debut but his hunger and fighting attitude was never lost through this phase then bringing his best when he got opportunity. Total respect, Fawad. pic.twitter.com/35Gy9Vi0O2
— Johns. (@CricCrazyJohns) January 27, 2021
You don't need to change your stance @iamfawadalam25, but the detractors might soon change their stance about you! Well batted 👏 Always believed you have what it takes to perform at this level. #PAKvSA https://t.co/oSGQEDpcYK pic.twitter.com/6V1peX4JnW
— Wasim Jaffer (@WasimJaffer14) January 27, 2021
fawad alam has a decade of missed hundreds to catch up on… #PAKvsSA
— Gaurav Kalra (@gauravkalra75) January 27, 2021
Fawad Alam today praised Misbah for giving him the confidence. And, of course, he deserve credit for selecting and allowing Fawad to express himself.
— Faizan Lakhani (@faizanlakhani) January 27, 2021
Great comeback by Pak. Fawad Alam was outstanding on mental and technical levels. Great 💯
— Ramiz Raja (@iramizraja) January 27, 2021
— Monty Panesar (@MontyPanesar) January 27, 2021
— K H A Y A M (@KhayamSays) January 27, 2021
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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