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Shan Masood

Is 149 defendable? ‘Without a shadow of doubt,' says Shan Masood

SA v Pak, 1st Test, day 2, reaction

The nature of the pitch at Centurion meant Pakistan were in with a good chance of winning the opening Test against South Africa, despite setting the hosts just 149 to win the match, Pakistan batsman Shan Masood has said.

Having conceded a first-innings lead of 42, the tourists were comfortably placed at 100/1 with opener Imam-ul-Haq and Masood looking like they had a measure of the bowlers. However, the wicket of Haq triggered a collapse as they were bowled out for 190.

Masood, who top-scored with 65 even as he ran out of partners, admitted to some frustration and disappointment, but was not writing off his team’s chances.

“Without a shadow of a doubt,” he said after the second day’s play on Thursday, 27 December, when asked if the target was defendable. “If you look at the first innings, we had South Africa at 43/4. If we’d bowled well to the two new batsmen, we could have got them out for an even lower score.

“It’s the fourth innings, it’s Test cricket ... But, ideally we would have liked to have a target that was closer to 200 runs.”

Coming back on day three, it was up to the bowlers to take the early wickets while the fielders would have to contain the boundary runs, he said.

On this surface, “you’re never in as a batsman, and as a bowling unit that’s an advantage for us”, he pointed out. “The track is certainly variable. With the new ball you would like to be as accurate and make the batsman play as much as possible. The cracks are doing a bit. The ball has kept low as well. It is all about taking early wickets and restricting the boundaries.

“We give ourselves a good chance to win the game.”

South Africa’s Temba Bavuma, the only batsman to make a fifty in their first hit, agreed that it would be a tricky chase on a surface where the batsmen felt they could get out any time.

“The first 15 to 20 overs will be key,” he said. “We would like to be as positive as we can, try to assert ourselves against their bowlers. Pakistan have a very good bowling attack. It won’t be easy, but if we can dominate those first 20 overs, it will make things a lot easier for the guys coming in.”

On the approach required from the batsmen, he added, “You have to have good plans, you have to exercise patience, and the biggest thing is that when the bad ball presents itself, you have to put it away.”

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