CENTURION: South Africa thrashed Pakistan by six wickets in the first Test at Centurion.
South Africa’ most trusted batsmen Hashim Amla returned to form with an unbeaten half-century, which helped South African pass the modest 149 runs target.
Chasing 149 to win on the third day of a low-scoring match, Amla finished on 63 not out.
Hashim Amla scored an unbeaten 63, his first fifty in 11 innings, which helped South Africa to a 1-0 series lead over Pakistan with a six-wicket win in the first Test at Centurion.
Dean Elgar contributed 50 to a 119-run stand. Amla faced an intense first hour on Friday morning to withstand some good bowling from the Pakistani pacer. He reversed the pressure to gain control of the innings after the early dismissal of Aiden Markram to the second ball he faced.
Amla and Elgar’s partnership set a new South African record for the second wicket against Pakistan in Tests, and secured a win inside three days in a fast-moving match.
A dropped catch and a controversial umpiring decision thwarted Pakistan as South Africa inched close towards victory.
There were two crucial incidents with the total on 16, either of which could have swung the game in Pakistan’s favour.
Amla, on eight, was dropped by Fakhar Zaman at third slip off Hasan when he slashed hard at the ball, which flew at chest height to the fielder.
In the next over, Dean Elgar, on four, edged new bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi low to first slip where Azhar Ali appeared to take a diving catch.
On-field umpires Bruce Oxenford and Sundaram Ravi conferred before referring to television umpire Joel Wilson with a ‘soft’ signal of out, indicating they thought it was a clean catch.
After looking at several replays including super-slow close-ups, Wilson ruled the ball had bounced and Elgar was reprieved.
The decision clearly astonished the Pakistan players and coach Mickey Arthur was seen leaving his place on the players’ balcony and going to the adjacent office of match referee David Boon.
Television commentator Michael Holding criticised his fellow West Indian Wilson.
“I’m convinced he was out,” said Holding. “I think the third umpire made a mistake. The protocol says you have got to be 100 per cent sure the decision was wrong to change it.”
Elgar and Amla survived some testing bowling from the Pakistan seamers and gradually began to lift the scoring rate.