Pakistan finished Day 2 in a commanding position as they lead by 88 runs thanks largely to Fawad Alam who brought up his third career century and first on his home ground. He once again showed the importance of domestic grind as he soaked up the pressure early on and then pretty much bossed the entire day.
Pakistan finished the day on 308 for 8 with Hasan Ali on 11 while debutant Nauman Ali on 6. South Africa will be wary of the threat Hasan Ali poses as he made a magnificent century on this same venue in the final of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
It was a day that belonged to Fawad Alam. A domestic titan who has scored a bulk of his run on this very pitch in National Stadium Karachi. It felt like he had the whole field on the palm of his hand. Where to score and where to not, when to attack and when to take a step back. Not only he took Pakistan out of trouble but his grind made sure South African bowlers toiled hard.
After the manic 14-wicket opening day in Karachi, Day 2 was largely attritional. Pakistan claimed the opening session with overnight batsmen Azhar Ali and Fawad batting through the session and added 71 runs. That partnership had whittled the lead down to 116 with Pakistan hoping another wicketless afternoon grind could put them well on course for a significant lead. But South Africa struck early through Keshav Maharaj in the second session.
Having just gotten to his 33rd Test fifty, Azhar Ali’s immaculate judgement of length failed for once. He hung back to cut but couldn’t get on top of the bounce and edged a catch to keeper Quinton de Kock.
Rizwan joined Fawad while the home team was still trailing by 99. Keshav Maharaj held one end up and gave his captain the cushion to rotate his quick bowlers from the other end. Rabada, Ngidi and Nortje all toiled hard but were not able to create any openings. The slowness of the Karachi pitch also played its part.
Rizwan was cautious in the start but soon found his stride. He hit Ngidi for back to back fours in an over. Linde was hit straight back over his head. Just when he started to assert himself on the bowlers he edged one on Ngidi’s bowling to Faf du Plessis in slips. But Fawad Alam kept on going and soon after tea, he completed his century by hitting Maharaj for a six to complete a dream century.
The run started coming thick and fast towards the end as Faheem and Fawad tried to seize the initiative. Fawad was looking set for a big one but went for 109 for soft dismissal as he handed an easy catch to Tenda Bavuma. Faheem completed a brilliant half -century and was rather unlucky as he digged out a yorker from Nortje but the ball went on to hit the stumps.
With the patches starting to appear on the pitch and spinners finding turn, Pakistan find themselves on top. In the morning they will be looking to add as many as they can to make it difficult for the Proteas to come back in the game. On the other hand, the visitors will be looking to send the tail back to the pavilion as soon as possible.