Home Sport Cricket Keshav Maharaj strikes early on turning Rawalpindi track

Keshav Maharaj strikes early on turning Rawalpindi track

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South Africa’s left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj found plenty of assistance from a dry surface, as Pakistan went into lunch under pressure on 63/3.

Proteas spinner Keshav Maharaj picked up two wickets on the first morning of the second Test against Pakistan. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Keshav Maharaj picked up two wickets as South Africa claimed the spoils in the opening session of the second Test in Rawalpindi on Thursday.

South Africa’s left-arm spinner, found plenty of assistance from a dry surface, as Pakistan went into lunch under pressure on 63/3. The hero from the first Test Fawad Alam on 16 and skipper Babar Azam on 24 returned after lunch to try and wrestle the initiative away from the Proteas.

Babar won the toss and understandably chose to bat on a dry surface marked by various plates on the surface. It immediately looked like a slow pitch as well with Quinton de Kock taking deliveries from Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje around his ankles, illustrating that the bounce was low too.

Rabada did get the ball to swing, finding the outside edge of Abid Ali’s bat in the second over, but the edge flew in the gap between third slip and gully to the boundary.

Maharaj, who had a slight injury scare coming into the Test after scans revealed either a minor tear or bruising in his rib cage – was brought onto bowl in the eighth over and should have had a wicket immediately with a beautifully flight delivery that spun from middle stump and found the outside edge of Abid’s bat. Temba Bavuma fielding at slip, grassed a very simple chance.

However with the third ball of his over, Maharaj did find the bat of Imran Butt – the face of it – with ball glancing off and Quinton de Kock taking a good catch behind. The Pakistani opener playing in his second Test made 15.

In his next over, Maharaj picked up the big wicket of Azhar Ali, getting the delivery to straighten off the surface and trapping Pakistan’s most experienced player lbw for nought.

In the very next over, Anrich Nortjé, got one to jump into the rib cage of Abid, with the opener, edging the ball onto his body and Aiden Markram showing superb reflexes at short leg, moving to his right to grab a one-handed catch.

Fawad, whose hundred in the first Test provided the foundation for Pakistan’s win in Karachi and Babar, then calmly batted until the interval, both producing some lovely shots, the highlight of which was a glorious cover drive from Babar off Maharaj.

George Linde had to leave the field in his third over, after a drive from Babar struck him on the pinky of his left hand – his bowling one – causing blood to gush out of the finger. He was receiving treatment as the players went into lunch.

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