Faf du Plessis scored his ninth test century as South Africa closed day two of the second Castle Lager test match against Pakistan on 382 for six at PPC Newlands in Cape Town on Friday.
The Proteas captain spent almost six hours at the crease for his 103, which included 13 boundaries from 226 deliveries while sharing in a brilliant 156-run stand for the fifth wicket with Temba Bavuma (75), which helped the Proteas to an overall first innings lead of 205.
“I thought Faf was excellent today, I thought the temperament he showed through the day was outstanding,” stated the Pakistan coach, Mickey Arthur.
“It was a challenging and tricky wicket, and if I compare it to Supersport Park, this wicket is a bit quicker so any deviation off the wicket was a bit hard to adjust to it. So it was challenging but not impossible,” stated Bavuma at the end of the day’s press conference.
It was the second consecutive day that the home side had dominated proceedings, starting the day on 123 for two with Dean Elgar (20) and Aiden Markram (78) back in the hut. The Proteas lost Hashim Amla (24) early in the morning without adding to his overnight total as well as Theunis de Bruyn (13).
Amla walked too far across his stumps, which allowed Mohammad Abbas (31-8-81-1) to send the leg stump cartwheeling back while Shaheen Afridi (26-3-112-3) had De Bruyn caught in the gully by Babar Azam, driving at a wide ball.
“We had three seamers who toiled hard today, I thought the first two hours we bowled particularly well. South Africa scored at three to the over and we wanted to bring that back a bit,” said Arthur after the day’s play.
But the fall of De Bruyn’s wicket brought Du Plessis and Bavuma together and the pair carried their side to lunch with the total on 188 for four and a first innings lead of 11. Bavuma had survived being given out caught in the slips as Azhar Ali claimed a catch as he did in the first test in Centurion but Bavuma stood his ground and the decision was referred upstairs and ultimately overturned.
“I have not seen the highlights yet but when i nicked it i had a chance to look behind and I was not 100% sure which is why I stood around,” stated Bavuma.
“It was easy to control myself this time because i got a demerit point last time, but to be fair, even Azhar wasn’t sure that he had caught it,” said Arthur about the catch off Bavuma’s bat.
The post-lunch session became the first in the series where a wicket did not fall as Du Plessis and Bavuma made the Pakistan bowlers toil under the hot Cape sun. Du Plessis brought up his fifty off 111 balls before the fifth-wicket stand had registered 100 off 200 deliveries.
Bavuma was to raise his bat to the crowd who saluted the diminutive right-hander for his second half-century of the series and 13th overall. South Africa moved to tea on 281 for four, adding 93 runs without losing a wicket.
“The wickets are not impossible, but definitely challenging and tough. You are not going to just go out there and hit through the line of the ball,” said Bavuma of the pitches.
Bavuma though survived again in the final session when he was given out leg before off the bowling of Abbas but Bavuma immediately reviewed the decision and the third umpire overturned the decision. Bavuma’s fortune would eventually run out as he edged Afridi through to Sarfraz Ahmed behind the stumps.
“Yes it was very disappointing that i couldn’t go on to make a century. If I look at the positive, it would be that i managed to help the team into a strong position. I don’t want to focus too much on my personal milestones but just to help the team,” said Bavuma.
Quinton de Kock though came in and played aggressively from the start, striking seven boundaries from 72 balls to end the day unbeaten on 55, his 14th test fifty. Vernon Philander faced 16 balls and will join De Kock on the third morning unbeaten on six.
“Quinny just came out there today and made it look like he was playing on a different strip. Aiden did the same yesterday,” said Bavuma of the ease of which Markram and De Kock played.
Du Plessis had won the toss on Thursday morning and asked Pakistan to bat first, with his four-pronged seam attack taking full advantage of the pitch, reducing Pakistan to 75 for five at lunch on day one. The South Africans needed just one more session to finish off the visitors for 177 with Duanne Olivier claiming 4-48 while receiving support from Dale Steyn (3-48), Kagiso Rabada (2-35) and Philander (1-36).
Sarfraz led from the front, top-scoring with 56 after spending two hours at the crease while striking nine boundaries. Shan Masood tried valiantly to provide support before receiving s snorter from Rabada for 44 while Mohammad Amir ended unbeaten on 22.
“We’ll bowl them out I think in the first 20 minutes tomorrow morning and then we’ll get 400 and bowl them out on day five with Yasir (Shah) taking six,” quipped Arthur about the state of the game’s position.