Pakistan changed colour at the Wanderers to maintain the reputation of being unpredictable…..  

It’s a new Test match. It’s a new day. But still, even the greatest expert of the game cannot predict, which Pakistan team they might see. Such is the impression, which exists among fans and experts about team Pakistan. The word, unpredictable is being used more often whenever Pakistan is playing. At times, it seems, Pakistan is predictably unpredictable and there is no special pride about being so much unpredictable. But just when you have started to get bored with Pakistan’s unpredictability, these Pakistanis would strike like a rumble of thunder to leave you stunned – you are not allowed to get bored while watching Pakistan in action.

The Johannesburg deck had been a belter and bat-first-type-wicket. The stand-in captain, Dean Elgar won the toss and immediately chose to bat first. On Day 1 and in the morning session, the South African tracks assist the new ball bowlers a lot. Even though, the wicket at Johannesburg was one the flatter side, till it had the spice to make the new ball move in and away. The Pakistani new ball bowlers – Mohammad Abbas and Mohammad Amir – tried to exploit the early morning moisture, but could not reap a rich harvest as because, they erred on line and length.

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Even though, Abbas enticed Elgar to poke at one outside off by pitching one further up to draw first blood, but still, the indiscipline of Pakistani pacers made batting look easier on such a flat wicket. According to CricViz, in the first 18 overs, only Faheem Ashraf was able to induce 39% false shots and made the batsmen play forward in 79% of cases. But apart from Faheem, the rest, pitched the ball on the shorter length and wider of offstump –  the runs came thick and fast.

Also read: Pakistan should play to win at Johannesburg to restore confidence

Aiden Markram went on the back foot with the utmost comfort and executed the cut shot with great joy. Whereas, Hashim Amla scripted the backfoot cover drives at ease. The 126-run stand came up so quickly, it seemed, Pakistan would have a long and tiring day at the Bull Ring.

After the departure of Amla and Markram, Theunis de Bruyn and debutante Hamza Zubyr piled on the agony – South Africa were dealing with boundaries – Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistani captain, searched for inspiration, but his bowlers were letting him down.

At tea South Africa were 226 for 3, with de Bruyn and Hamza well settled at the wicket to post a massive total on Day 1. But in the post-tea session, Pakistan changed their colour like they always do. In a typical Pakistani way, they dished out a bolt from the blue!

Amir, Abbas, Hasan Ali and Faheem; all of a sudden transformed into demons. As if all of them were so much hungry that they would devour any strong batting lineup twice in a given day.

They pitched the ball on a full and back-of-a-length more consistently and moved the ball better than previous two sessions as CricViz says, “In the first two sessions Pakistan’s quicks pitched 47% on a good line & length & found 0.57° of swing; since tea that has increased to 58% & 0.84°, increasing false shots from 10% to 22%”.

Most importantly, the Pakistani pacers could exhibit the reverse swing – an art, which is hardly evident among Pakistani pacers these days. The old ball moved late in both ways and created doubts in the minds of the batsmen.

Abbas started it by pitching one full and straight, which reversed and trapped de Bruyn plumb in front. Then, another Amir late-swing kissed Temba Bavuma’s edge, while leaving him away after pitching in-and-around the middle-and-off-stump. In the twinkle of an eye, South Africa were 238 for 5 and it became 244 for 6 when Amir banged a similar delivery to Hamza who could not understand whether to play or leave the ball and edged to Sarfraz Ahmed.

Pakistan were on a roll and when they rediscover their mojo, they become an irresistible force.

South Africa lost 7 wickets for 33 runs!

Pakistan clawed back into the game in a typical Pakistani fashion.

The experts could not understand what just happened. The crowd was left guessing about Pakistan’s style of play. While Pakistan captain Sarfarz led his team back to the dressing room with a smile on his face.


Yet again, the pacers have brought Pakistan back to the game. Now, it’s up to the Pakistani batsmen to put up an inspiring show on Day 2.

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