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Calm Manzoor leads Pakistan dominance

Opener hits maiden ton while Masood scores 75 on debut as Pakistan end second day on 263 for 3, leading by 14 runs

Calm Manzoor leads Pakistan dominance - Cricket News
Pakistan's opener Khurram Manzoor remained unbeaten on 131 and helped Pakistan take the first innings lead.

A ferocious fightback from South Africa’s seamers in the final session failed to wrestle the initiative from a resolute Pakistan side which dominated the second day of the first Test at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium on Tuesday (October 15) as comprehensively as it did the first.

A calmly composed, highly skilled century from Khurram Manzoor, built on the foundation of a thrilling opening stand of 135 with Shan Masood, the debutant, led Pakistan to 263 for 3 at stumps, an overall lead of 14 runs.  Manzoor will resume on the third morning with a wonderful 131 from 244 deliveries in the company of Misbah-ul-Haq, his captain, who has 44 from 77 balls. 

Manzoor is just five runs away from equalling Azhar Mahmood’s 136 as the highest score by a Pakistan batsman against South Africa, but looked capable of moving well beyond that number by the time stumps were drawn. 

Despite his youth and inexperience, Masood, who bats left-handed, was the dominant partner in the opening stand, and appeared as adequately equipped to attack as he was to defend when circumspection was required. Hostile spells from Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel brought a display of courage and balance, the two most important qualities to survive fast bowling. 

Yet when the opportunity presented itself to attack Robin Peterson’s left-arm spin, Masood wasn’t afraid to loft the ball over the infield and always did so with controlled precision. A quicker ball from JP Duminy trapped him lbw for 75 from 140 balls, but by then he had done more than enough to justify a first Test cap in place of Mohammad Hafeez. 

Manzoor put his head down and grafted for the next 15 minutes, wise to the history of wickets falling in pairs following a large stand, but never remained in the defensive bunker and was soon raising his head above the parapet, scampering singles off the quick men and using beautiful hands to punch and steer the spinners into gaps.

Vernon Philander’s steady accuracy has been the perfect foil to the snarl of Steyn and Morkel during South Africa’s ascent to No.1 in the world, but it poses considerably less menace when the pitch is as flat as this one. Nonetheless, it only takes the slightest deviation to find the edge – as Azhar Ali confirmed in providing AB de Villiers, the wicketkeeper, with a catch. 

The best ball of the day, however, was the snorting, throat-seeking bouncer served up by Morkel to Younis Khan, who could merely deflect it from the glove to Alviro Petersen in the gully, more concerned with the preservation of his well-being than his wicket. 

Misbah, however, was the usual paragon of calm, gently ducking and weaving away from the short stuff and patiently waiting for scoring opportunities, of which there were a few as the day drew to a close. He is all too well aware of the importance of not giving the world’s best Test team an inch of wriggle room. Even a lead of around a hundred may not be enough to put South Africa under pressure. Pakistan must bat their visitors out of the game in this first innings.

Pakistan’s domination began in the very first over of the day when Hashim Amla edged Mohammad Irfan to Younis at second slip without adding to his overnight 118. A couple of overs later Steyn charged down the wicket at Saeed Ajmal and was stumped, barely in the square-leg camera shot as South Africa was bowled out for 249.

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