Proteas v Pakistan, 1st Test: 5 talking points

2018-12-28 17:23
Hashim Amla (Gallo)
Hashim Amla (Gallo)

Cape Town - The Proteas have gone 1-0 up in their three-Test series against Pakistan after winning inside three days at Centurion. 

The first Test moved along at a rapid rate, with 15 wickets falling on day 1 and on day 2. 

South Africa were not at their best, but in the end they got the job done. 

Here, Lloyd Burnard looks at the FIVE biggest talking points to have come out of the contest from a South African perspective. 

1. Steyn breaks Pollock's long-standing record

Dale Steyn's breakthrough on the first morning of the Test match saw him go past Shaun Pollock as country's all-time wicket-takers in the format. 

It is a record that had stood for over 10 years and one that solidifies Steyn's place as a great of the game. 

The 35-year-old has been back to his best in the months leading up to this series, though he was not at that level during Pakistan's first innings. 

More importantly, Steyn got through the Test unscathed and showed that he can bowl long, intense spells. 

It's good news for the Proteas with next year's World Cup in mind. 

2. Olivier gives national selectors a headache 

Duanne Olivier was simply superb at Centurion, finishing with match figures of 11/96. In the side because of an injury to Vernon Philander, Olivier took his chance in the best way possible. 

The problem now is that Philander, one of the world's best, is fit for the 2nd Test in Cape Town.

What will that mean for Olivier? 

It is hard to see Steyn or Kagiso Rabada making way, so we could very well see a situation where Olivier is dropped after delivering one of the finest bowling performances in recent Proteas memory. 

The other option, of course, is to leave out spinner Keshav Maharaj and go in with four specialist seamers. 

Either way, the selectors have a lot to ponder and that is all down to Olivier's heroics in Pretoria. 

3. Has Hashim Amla turned the corner?

Hashim Amla's form of late has been a concern for most. He has struggled for months now across all formats at both domestic and international levels.

On Friday, however, Amla gave a timely reminder of his pedigree. 

Coming in at 0/1 on a wicket that former Proteas skipper Graeme Smith referred to as a 'snake pit', Amla got on with it and played some attractive shots in trying conditions to finish 63* and guide the Proteas home. 

He was dropped in the slips on 8*, but perhaps that was the injection of luck Amla needed to turn the corner. 

There is no doubt that the Proteas are a significantly better side when Amla is playing well, and that is also important with the World Cup in mind. 

4. Another dodgy South African strip? 

It depends which way you look at it, really. 

Some will argue that a wicket like the one dished up at Centurion is exactly what Test cricket needs in that it speeds up the game. Wickets tumble regularly and therefore batsmen must ensure that they score runs during the limited time they have out in the middle. 

The counter-argument, however, is that when wickets aid seam bowling as much as this one did on days one and two, then there is not a fair contest between bat and ball. 

There is nothing wrong with conditions favouring certain bowling gameplans, but when the bounce is unpredictable then the wicket lacks consistency and conversations like this will always arise. 

For me, enough batsmen showed over the three days that if you applied yourself, there were still runs to be had. 

5. Centurion now owns Boxing Day cricket 

The Test may have only lasted three days, but the crowd numbers were encouraging and Boxing Day cricket should be kept at Centurion.

There were well over 10 000 on Boxing Day and around 5 000 on Thursday, and while those numbers may seem modest, they are significantly more impressive than the returns for this fixture that we have seen in Port Elizabeth and, particularly, Durban on December 26.

Throw in a pink ball and some floodlights, and Centurion could create something very special once a year. 

Follow @LloydBurnardon Twitter ... 

Read more on:    pakistan  |  proteas  |  centurion  |  cricket


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