Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Formula One 2014: Complete schedule, standings, driver info
Hasim Amla, right, of South Africa bats as Pakistan's wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal watches on during their first Test at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Monday. South Africa's paceman Mohammad Irfan took two early wickets to leave his team at 66-3 at lunch on the opening day of the first Test. Karim Sahib / AFP
Hasim Amla, right, of South Africa bats as Pakistan's wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal watches on during their first Test at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Monday. South Africa's paceman Mohammad Irfan took two early wickets to leave his team at 66-3 at lunch on the opening day of the first Test. Karim Sahib / AFP

South Africa shake off cobwebs and absorb Pakistan’s early charge

Hashim Amla’s 20th Test hundred highlighted a strong batting performance for South Africa during the first day of their first Test match with Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, writes Osman Samiuddin.

ABU DHABI // The only concern for South Africa coming into this Test would have been that they had not played a Test since February.

Some of their main batsmen had not played any competitive cricket in months before they landed here and though Pakistan bowled with wonderful discipline and commitment, it was difficult not to detect an element of rustiness in the top order.

Hashim Amla is rust-proof, though, as he proved again in guiding his team through a difficult first day in Abu Dhabi with a century so smooth and inevitable it could easily have gone unnoticed. Amla’s 20th Test hundred was both elegant and resolute.

He initially countered Pakistan’s morning charge, after Mohammad Irfan and Junaid Khan had adeptly exploited some unexpected early help and snuffed out three top-order wickets. As the day proceeded, he settled down for a long hand.

He stitched together pleasant, untroubled partnerships with AB de Villiers and then JP Duminy, the latter returning to Test cricket after nearly a year, and doing so with an impish fifty of his own. “Immense” was how Duminy described Amla.

“Just to see the power of concentration he has is phenomenal,” he said. “I saw a stat today that he is 30 Tests behind Gary Kirsten and only one Test hundred [behind]. That says a lot because Gazza was phenomenal himself. The key now is for him to try and push on for us. We strive to take responsibility within team when you’re in and hopefully he’ll do it for us.”

South Africa’s gains from the day should have been greater, but Duminy’s dismissal sparked the other key contribution of the day, that of Zulfiqar Babar.

The third-oldest man to debut for Pakistan, the 34-year-old Babar took three wickets in the last session to haul South Africa in, outbowling even Saeed Ajmal.

It could hardly happen to a more deserving player, a long-time domestic performer, given a chance earlier this year in the Caribbean and, with Abdur Rehman’s back reportedly playing up, a first Test call on Monday.

“He is a very good spinner, a very experienced one,” Irfan said later. “We play for the same region and he’s made a great debut and will go on to take more wickets.”

On the surface, the first day left Pakistan on top and South Africa, as Duminy said, “behind the eight-ball”.

But the key to this Test and series lies in Pakistan’s batting and how it holds up against the best pace attack in the world.

osamiuddin@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Yuvraj Singh, left, and Virat Kohli of Royal Challengers Bangalore celebrating after they won their IPL match against Delhi Daredevils at Sharjah Cricket Stadium in Sharjah. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: IPL 7 action at Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s power-hitters laid down a marker at the first opportunity in IPL 2014 as they cruised past a hapless Delhi Daredevils with eight wickets, 20 deliveries, and about three more gears to spare in front of a packed house at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Thursday, April 17, 2014.

 Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho looks on during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Chelsea at the Liberty Stadium on April 13, 2014 in Swansea, Wales. Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

‘That’s why we are a top club’ says Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech

Jose Mourinho’s men will temporarily claim the Premier League top spot if they beat Sunderland, leaving them in control of their own destiny in the title race ahead of a crucial trip to face Liverpool at Anfield on April 27.

 Chris Burch will play fly-half as part of a new-look back line for the UAE national rugby union team that will face Singapore at The Sevens grounds in Dubai. Sarah Dea / The National

Chris Burch to lead UAE’s charge against Singapore

he UAE’s bid to safeguard their place in the second tier of Asian rugby against Singapore next week will be piloted by a player who was contemplating retirement from the sport at this time last year.

 Opening performance during Day 3 of the World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship at the First Gulf Bank Arena at Zayed Sport City in Abu Dhabi. Mona Al-Marzooqi/ The National

In pictures: Day 3 of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship

All the action from Day 3 of the World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship at the First Gulf Bank Arena at Zayed Sport City in Abu Dhabi.

 Atletico Madrid's Cristian Rodriguez, second left, celebrates his goal with team mates, and coach Diego Simeone, third right. Atletico are on the cusp of a Primer Liga title. AP Photo/Andres Kudacki

Atletico Madrid look to edge towards Primera Liga title before Chelsea visit

Diego Simeone's men need to win just four of their five remaining games to seal the Primera Liga championship and they take on Elche before the first leg of their Uefa Champions League semi-final against Chelsea on Tuesday.

 Jorginho accepts the challenge that lies ahead for Al Wasl's improvement, and the club says it will give him time ... if they see results.  Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Wasl will give Jorginho time but results in Arabian Gulf League are needed

Al Wasl officials said they will provide Jorginho, their new coach, sufficient time to change the club’s fortunes while also warning that his fate ultimately will depend on results.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National