After captain Sarfraz Ahmed rued the lack of bite in Pakistan‘s pace bowling attack, it was the turn of bowling coach Azhar Mahmood to bemoan their inconsistency.
Sarfraz was unhappy with the lack of pace in Pakistan’s seam attack with all pacers bowling around or below the 130kph mark. He received a lot of flak as it was Pakistan’s batting that was seen as the main reason for their impending series whitewash. However, the fact is visitors’ bowling attack did let South Africa off the hook from 93-5 to 303 in the third Test in Jo’burg with Quinton de Kock (129) and Hashim Amla (71) leading the way.
Seamers Mohammad Abbas and Hasan Ali went for more than four runs an over. Pakistan ended the third day of the Wanderers Test on 153-3 chasing an imposing target of 381.
After the day’s play, Mahmood said inexperience in the bowling line-up was to be blamed.
“We could have bowled a lot better today, and there were patches we didn’t bowl well in Centurion and Cape Town as well,” Mahmood was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. “But as you see, our bowling line-up is very inexperienced, and this is a learning curve for them. Apart from Amir, no one has come here before. These are different pitches, different atmosphere, so it’s a learning curve for them.”
Former all-rounder Mahmood said the wicket had flattened out dramatically on Sunday, which was evident in the way Pakistan’s openers put together a fifty-run stand.
“I think the pitch flattened out a bit. For the last three days, all sides opted for the heavy roller and the pitch flattened out. I think our plan was to get them out for less than 50 or 60 runs today, so we’d have to chase 270 or 280. But credit goes to de Kock and Amla. They played really well. They left the ball well, and when they got opportunities, they hit boundaries. On this ground, there are a lot of boundary options.”
Quinton de Kock scored a fine century while pace spearhead Dale Steyn struck twice with the ball to keep South Africa on course for a series whitewash against Pakistan in the third and final Test at the Wanderers.
The visitors were set a target of 381 and despite a fine start, reached stumps at 153-3 needing 228 more to win in the Johannesburg Test.
Openers Imam-ul-Haq and Shan Masood got Pakistan off to a fine start, putting on 67 with the help of some attacking cricket.
Both looked comfortable on a pitch which surprisingly didn’t play as many tricks as expected.
However, Steyn changed ends and struck immediately, getting Imam caught behind for 35. Four overs later Steyn took the scalp of Masood after a decision review found a faint edge behind to keeper De Kock.
Series hero Duanne Olivier then dismissed Azhar Ali with the batsman gloving a bouncer to the keeper. Asad Shafiq (48 not out) and Babar Azam (17 not out) took Pakistan to close of play with an unbroken stand of 49.
Earlier, De Kock and Hashim Amla helped South Africa post a massive target. Amla made a patient 71 off 144 balls and added 102 for the sixth wicket with De Kock. The keeper also starred in an eighth wicket stand of 79 with Kagiso Rabada.
De Kock made 129, equalling his best Test score, before the Proteas were bowled out for 303.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed rued yet another batting collapse and targeted his bowlers once again as South Africa inched ahead in the Wanderers Test. Pakistan were well-placed at 169-5 before losing three wickets on the same score and conceding a lead of 77. Sarfraz Ahmed (50) and Babar Azam (49) were going great guns but lost their wickets to poor shots, according to the skipper.
“I think if you talk about our day, we had a chance to get to 262 runs but we didn’t get it,” Sarfraz was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. “When me and Babar were batting, we were thinking we should play positive cricket. Unfortunately, I couldn’t score more than 50. If I’d scored 50-70 more runs, the position would have been be much better.”
The wicketkeeper batsman said a few bad shots put his team well behind in the match.
“I think we played a couple of bad shots. I think my shot was a bad shot, and Babar’s too. If you see the last five wickets, there were three bad shots. Mine, Babar’s and Faheem [Ashraf’s]. If we hadn’t played those shots, maybe would be in a much better position.”
The skipper also blamed a less than impressive bowling effort in the final hour which allowed South Africa to recover from 45-4 to 135-5.
“Our bowling, especially the last 45 minutes, we weren’t up to the mark,” he said. “We bowled really well overall but the last one hour we didn’t bowl well. At the moment we are only bowling well in patches. If we bowl well consistently throughout an innings, I don’t think South Africa will score.”