South Africa had everything going their way in the opening day of the first Test at the National Stadium in Karachi. On a dull day for the bowlers, the South African top order saw the day off to a handsome 294 for 3 with Jacques Kallis recording his 25th Test Match hundred. South Africa had the luck with the toss as they opted to bat first on a dry wicket that was prepared to suit the Pakistani spinners.
The morning of the Test Match gave a shocker with Mohammad Yousuf pulling out of the playing eleven citing lack of match fitness. Yousuf had been keeping himself engaged in religious preaching in Pakistan after the Caribbean World Cup and it was only recently that he had started to think about his cricketing routine. And on the eve of the first Test just couldn’t feel alright with his game to play at the highest level. The other speculation doing rounds is that the Indian Cricket League could have threatened Yousuf about legal ramifications had he gone on to play for Pakistan despite signing a contract with them.
Pakistan gave debut for the left arm spinner Abdur Rehman while Misbah-ul-Haq got rewarded for his Twenty20 heroics. The homeside literally struggled with just the two pacers in its line up and once Gibbs and Graeme Smith got used to the slow pace of the track, it was troubled times for the fielding side. However, Pakistan were fortunate enough to see the back of Graeme Smith before lunch as the left hander got himself in a mess, playing back to a full length delivery from part timer Hafeez to be lbw. Smith made 42 in 66 with 5 fours in an opening stand of 87.
After lunch, Herschelle Gibbs threw away his wicket with a loose shot to fail in converting his 54 into a bigger score. His runs came in 106 balls with 8 fours after falling to Umar Gul. The rest of the day was all about the partnership between two right handers who are blessed with loads of concentration powers. Hashim Amla, the no.3 and Jacques Kallis made sure that the South Africans made most out of the batting conditions to put on a 170-run stand for the third wicket. Towards the end of the day’s play, Hashim Amla departed after a four hour stay which came to an end by an Asif incutter with the second new ball. Amla made 71 with 6 fours and a six. Prince with 3 from 21 saw the day off with Kallis who is looking for much bigger things on the second day by remaining not out with 118 from 192 with 15 fours.
Pakistan used as many as six bowling options in the first session itself and that looks to be their bowling strategy in this match. Even Shoaib Malik, the Skipper bowled himself for 8 overs. While there is turn in this track, it has been on the slower side which has allowed the batsmen to adjust their approach accordingly. South African batsmen will be looking to press forward for a big first innings total. Pakistan on the other hand has got plenty to do and off the field they got to rethink about having lifeless pitches which hardly give any chance for their seamers.