The first day of the second Test in Pakistan’s ‘home’ series against South Africa threatened to cause a bit of a stir, but ultimately failed to deliver by stumps following an explosive first ten overs in the morning. Unless you get your cricketing kicks from watching Jacques Kallis or AB de Villiers bat, in which case, you must have had a whale of a time today.
Hit by Wahab Riaz’s injury in the first Test, Pakistan drafted in newbie seam bowler Tanvier Ahmed, who proceeded to remove Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla and Graeme Smith in his first six overs. Particularly memorable was the removal of Amla, with Tanvir’s delivery convincing Asoka De Silva that the bearded wonder’s ribs sound the same as a nick off the inside edge.
But if there was one man you wanted to stop the rot in a batting line up, it would most likely be Jacques Kallis. Together with AB de Villiers, it was over 40 overs later until Pakistan made a further breakthrough, putting on a 4th wicket partnership of 179 run.
The most striking feature of this partnership, in my mind, was the distinct case of mistaken identity. Kallis is a batsman widely regarded as a stodgy character out in the middle, putting the value of his wicket ahead of everything else, whereas de Villiers has a reputation for entertaining knocks, probably stemming from his boyish charm. Kallis’ first scoring stroke certainly seemed out of character for the big man from Cape Town, a hook shot for six. The tone for his innings set, he quite frankly raced to his century, twatting Abdur Rehman back over his head for two sixes along the way. de Villiers, on the other had, batted watchfully, dispatching the ball to the boundary only when he felt the opportunity had been offered to him.
With the spot-fixing scandal surrounding Mohammads Asif and Aamer, Pakistan must be wondering when their next great fast bowling prodigy will surface. For the time being, they’ve had to go to the other end of the talent pool which refuses to cease with surprises. Tanvir, 31, looks every bit a journeymen club cricket pro, complete with lumbering run up and body language which suggested he couldn’t wait for a breather at tea. Nonetheless, he was their only bowler to maintain an element of control in his bowling, as Umar Gul disappointed, and Mohammad Sami managed to condense the story of his career into his first four overs. He showcased both his ability to move the ball round corners, but also his penchant for loose balls, which Kallis ruthless gobbled up at the start of his innings, prompting Misbah -Ul-Haq to take him off for Younus Khan’s wily medium pace.
Younus’ return in the first Test certainly provided a lift, but it will take more than one batsman with the temperament for this format to get Pakistan back on the right path.