Fawad Alam ensured Pakistan bounced back strikingly on the second day in Karachi, his third Test century helping the home side end the day at 308/8, a lead of 88, against South Africa.
Alam’s century formed the bedrock of Pakistan’s efforts on the second day, as he put on sizeable partnerships with Azhar Ali, Mohammad Rizwan and Faheem Ashraf to ensure Pakistan dug themselves out of the hole they found themselves in at the end of the first day. It also meant Pakistan extended Kagiso Rabada’s wait for his 200th Test wicket, to another day at least.
Pakistan were in trouble overnight, having been reduced to 27/4 late on the opening day with their best batsman, Babar Azam, back in the dressing room. The South African bowlers had their tails up, and had they managed a couple of wickets in the morning session, Pakistan might well have crumbled.
Instead, they found themselves facing the steely resolve of Alam and Azhar Ali. Their grit meant the Karachi pitch seemed to no longer possess some of the demons it suggested it had on the previous day. There were a couple of nervy instances early in the day, but once the batsmen rode through that and took the total past 50, they knew there in control.
Alam and Ali put on a fine 94-run partnership, ensuring the South African bowlers had no joy in the opening session, even though Keshav Maharaj, their most experienced spinner, threatened occasionally. Their partnership, which lasted the best part of 40 overs, took the sting out of South Africa. When Maharaj eventually got the breakthrough, Ali attempting a cut and sending it through to the ‘keeper, Pakistan weren’t too affected.
Mohammad Rizwan came in and continued frustrating South Africa. While Alam, in his unorthodox manner, ploughed away, Rizwan adopted a more aggressive approach, scoring a relatively quick 59-ball 33, to put on a quick 50-run stand. He eventually perished to Lungi Ngidi, but the worst was yet to come for South Africa, as Faheem Ashraf joined Alam.
Congratulations @iamfawadalam25 on ur 3rd Test 💯. Hope concerned ppl wil start considering RESILIENCE as one of the important TALENT required at international level other than Batting & Bowling. Stay strong 💪🏼 & keep Rocking pic.twitter.com/u3gJZ7VkFD— Mohammad Hafeez (@MHafeez22) January 27, 2021
South Africa were punished in differing manners. While Ashraf played his shots and adopted an attacking approach, Alam continued his tried-and-tested approach, grinding out the opposition. The duo added 102 runs for the seventh wicket, during the course of which Alam finally brought up his third Test century – it was his third Test century, meaning every time he has scored over fifty in Test cricket, Alam has managed to convert that into three figures.
Late in the day, after Pakistan had attained the lead and extended it, Alam and Ashraf fell in quick succession. Alam picked out mid-wicket with a flick off Ngidi, in what was a much-needed breakthrough for South Africa, and three overs later, Ashraf followed suit, undone by a yorker from Anrich Nortje. Despite that, Pakistan had scored a dominant 130 runs in the final session alone, and the ball is now firmly in Pakistan’s court.
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