South Africa’s Keshav Maharaj says the pitch at the National Stadium in Karachi has held up well and should still be good for batting.
JOHANNESBURG – Keshav Maharaj admitted that the pitch at the National Stadium in Karachi has held no surprises for South Africa despite numerous indications on the first day that it would deteriorate rapidly.
Just four wickets fell on the second day of the match on Wednesday as Pakistan moved from a position of trepidation at 27/4 on Tuesday to 308/8 at stumps on Wednesday evening, a lead of 88.
Fourteen wickets fell on the first day, but as Fawad Alam showed, with his superb innings of 109, the pitch had no demons.
“The wicket still looks pretty good,” said Maharaj, who picked 2/71 in 29 overs, engaging in a lively battle with Azhar Ali, along the way. It was a fight, South Africa’s left-arm spinner ultimately won, dismissing the experienced Pakistan right hander for 51.
But the pitch didn’t provide him or even South Africa’s seamers with as much assistance as they had anticipated after a lively opening day. There was plenty of reverse swing, and signs of inconsistent bounce, but little spin.
“We didn’t expect the ball to turn much, it doesn’t usually do that on the first three days here in Karachi,” said Maharaj. “It has played like we expected. Hopefully as the game goes on, through wear and tear we’ll see a little bit more turn, but from the straight it didn’t turn.
“From the footmarks it did (spin) which is normal for a Test match. Having seen Yasir Shah turn it on day one, obviously for us it didn’t turn too much, but he is a wrist spinner so he’ll get a lot more revolutions on the ball.”
Maharaj stressed the importance of picking up the remaining Pakistan wickets and then batting as long as possible. “It is still a good wicket. Fawad showed that if you use a bit of application, you can score … it’s a simple cliche of Test cricket, but if you invest you’re going to get runs and we have to bat as long as possible to get runs.”
Fawad, whose innings lasted 353 minutes in which he faced 245 balls and hit nine fours and two sixes said there was still more work to do for Pakistan with the bat. “We have a very good situation right now, but I think we need to add 30 or 40 runs. If we can get to a lead of 150, then we will be in with a very good chance to win the Test.”