The first Test between South Africa and Pakistan is being played in Karachi and, given its location in the middle of the sub-continent, the Proteas being bowled out for just 220 probably shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.
In their last 21 innings in Asia, only one has ended in a total above 300.
However, given that this was the first day of the Test and the pitch wasn’t offering excessive turn, plus the fact that the Proteas were 94 for two after 26 overs at lunch, having won the toss and batted, the afternoon collapse was a bit of a shocker.
From 108 for two, South Africa crashed to 136 for five, before Temba Bavuma (17) and George Linde (35) provided some stability with a 43-run stand. That promising partnership was ended by Bavuma being run out, as was an unusually brisk start by Rassie van der Dussen, who was also run out for 17.
They were the most unnecessary of the dismissals but there were several others that were soft.
It smacked of the South African batsmen getting ahead of themselves and pushing too hard, an assessment opener Dean Elgar, who top-scored with 58, agreed with.
“You can get caught trying to balance intensity with what’s happening on the scoreboard, but we were going at more than 3.5 runs-per-over at lunch,” Elgar said.
“You want to maintain that because then you’ll have a good day with the bat, but you’ve got to earn your right to do that. We did it before lunch, but then you have to start again and earn the right again.”
Kagiso Rabada won a battle with seamer Hasan Ali as he hammered three fours and a six in his 21 not out that lifted South Africa past 200, and the adrenalin from that impressive cameo provided the avenue for the fast bowling spearhead to produce a superbly intense burst with the new ball.
Rabada removed both openers – debutant Imran Butt (9) and Abid Ali (4) – and his first three overs were maidens as he set the tone with his spell of 6-3-8-2.
This left Pakistan heading for an even worse first-innings score than South Africa as they reached stumps on 33 for four.
Providing the bowlers continue down the same road, South Africa’s avenue to success in this first Test will be to put up a much better batting performance in their second innings.