Pakistan coach hits out at pitch after another day of toil against South Africa

Former Proteas coach Arthur is not a happy man having seen his side suffer on day two in Cape Town. (AFP)
Updated 04 January 2019
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Pakistan coach hits out at pitch after another day of toil against South Africa

  • Proteas build a commanding first-innings lead at Newlands.
  • Arthur not happy with state of the wicket in first two matches.

CAPE TOWN: Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur criticized the pitches for the first two Tests against South Africa, saying they were not good enough for Test cricket.
With his team facing a series defeat after two days of the second Test at Newlands, Arthur said the quality of pitches had deteriorated in the ten years since he coached the South African team.
On the back of a century by captain Faf du Plessis, South Africa built a winning position, reaching 382 for six, a first innings lead of 205 runs. Du Plessis made a patient 103 and shared a fifth wicket stand of 156 with Temba Bavuma (75). Quinton de Kock made a breezy 55 not out late in the day to reinforce South Africa’s dominance.
Arthur acknowledged that the South African total did not back up his argument about the quality of the pitches but said he did not believe the pitches made for a fair contest.
“I am disappointed. I haven’t been back to South Africa in a cricketing capacity since 2010. The standard of the wickets at Centurion and here hasn’t been good enough for Test cricket,” he said.
He cited inconsistent bounce, with balls rearing out of cracks, which had led to seven stoppages for injuries to batsmen on Friday.
“I can understand it if it gets to day four or five because that’s what happens in Test cricket and so it should, but it shouldn’t make your first innings a lottery.”
Arthur said Du Plessis and Bavuma deserved credit for the way they had batted in the conditions and added that the extra pace of the South African bowlers had been a big factor in Pakistan being bowled out for 177 on the first day.
“The difference is that South Africa bowled at 145 (kilometers an hour) plus and we were at 135 today. Those 10 kilometers on a wicket like this make a significant difference.”
Bavuma said batting conditions had been “challenging and tricky but not impossible.”
He added: “You’ve got to make peace with the fact that you’re going to take a few (balls) on the body.”
Bavuma appeared to have been caught by Azhar Ali at first slip off Mohammad Abbas when he was on three. The on-field umpires gave a “soft” signal of “out” but asked for television umpire Sundaram Ravi to check whether there had been a clean catch. Ravi decided the ball had made contact with the ground while the catch was being taken.
“I wasn’t 100 percent sure, which I was why I stood at the time,” said Bavuma.
The incident was similar to one at a critical stage of the first Test in Centurion, also involving Azhar Ali, when Dean Elgar survived against Shaheen Shah Afridi after Wilson reversed the on-field decision.
Arthur was fined a demerit point after going into the match referee’s room and criticizing Wilson at Centurion but he said Azhar himself had not been sure whether he had made a clean catch. “It was different from last week,” said Arthur.
Du Plessis, out for a pair during South Africa’s six-wicket win in the first Test in Centurion, showed patience and resolve in an innings lasting six minutes short of six hours. He faced 226 balls and hit 13 fours.
He gave a chance on 96 when Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan captain and wicketkeeper, could not hold a faint glance down the leg side off Abbas.
Abbas bowled a probing line and length but had a largely luckless day, as did Mohammad Amir, who went past the edge of Du Plessis’ bat on several occasions.
Bavuma, who hit a solitary Test century against England three seasons ago, made his 13th half-century before being caught behind off left-armer Afridi, bowling around the wicket. Bavuma faced 162 balls and hit ten fours.
Afridi was the most expensive of the Pakistan bowlers, conceding 112 runs, but he picked up three of the four wickets that fell during the day, including that of Du Plessis on review after umpire Wilson failed to detect a faint edge.


Kane Williamson leads New Zealand to dramatic, last-over win against South Africa at Edgbaston

Updated 30 min 3 sec ago
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Kane Williamson leads New Zealand to dramatic, last-over win against South Africa at Edgbaston

  • Williamson and de Grandhomme joined with the total at 137-5 in reply to South Africa’s 241-6
  • The win moved New Zealand atop the standings

BIRMINGHAM: Kane Williamson hit a six in the last over to reach his century and followed it up with a boundary to give New Zealand a four-wicket victory over South Africa with three balls to spare Wednesday, in the closest finish of the Cricket World Cup so far.
New Zealand went into the last over at 234-6 and chasing 242 for victory. Andile Phehlukwayo’s first ball was sent for a single by Mitchell Santner, sensibly giving Williamson the strike, and the New Zealand captain immediately took his chance with a powerful six.
Williamson finished 106 not out off 138 balls as New Zealand reached 245-6 in a match reduced to 49 overs each innings.
He called it “a great game of cricket on a surface that was tough for both sides.”
The win moved New Zealand atop the standings and effectively put an end to South Africa’s chances of reaching the playoffs.
“I’m feeling five years older. My body is really sore after that,” South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said. “We left everything out there, and that’s all I can ask for as a captain, that the guys fought.”
So did Williamson, who was brilliantly supported and occasionally overshadowed by Colin de Grandhomme, who smashed a 47-ball 60, with five fours and two sixes. He impatiently holed out to du Plessis at long-off to a delivery from Lungi Ngidi at the start of the penultimate over — the 48th — while going for his third six.
Williamson and de Grandhomme joined with the total at 137-5 in reply to South Africa’s 241-6 off 49 overs, and their partnership was crucial in guiding New Zealand to its fourth win of the tournament.
The Black Caps now have nine points, one clear of top-ranked England and defending champion Australia. At the other end of the table, South Africa is almost certainly out of contention — in the first major shock of the 2019 edition — with only three points from six games.
The New Zealanders appeared content with the run chase ahead of them but the wicket was trickier than it appeared, and the chase far harder. Except for Williamson.
The Black Caps had kept an unchanged XI from its last completed match against Afghanistan on June 8. Fast bowler Lungi Ngidi (1-47) returned from a hamstring injury in South Africa’s only change from its nine-wicket win over Afghanistan last Saturday.
Williamson won everything on Wednesday, including the toss. And while New Zealand failed to bowl out a team for the first time at the tournament, South Africa’s total appeared too little to test the Black Caps. Yet the result was in the balance until the end.
“Obviously, I’m extremely disappointed. Cricket means a lot to me, and the performance of this team means a lot to me,” du Plessis said.
Hashim Amla reached a personal landmark as the second-quickest batsman with 8,000 runs in ODIs, but the 36-year-old opener again took his time with an 83-ball 55 before falling to Santner’s spin.
Amla shared a 50-run second-wicket partnership with du Plessis (23) and a 52-run third-wicket stand with Aiden Markram (38). But it was mostly slow going.
Rassie van der Dussen provided some late-innings impetus with an unbeaten 67 off 64 balls, with two fours and three sixes. David Miller scored a lively 36 from 37. The pair shared a partnership of 72.
Miller swung and hit intimidating quick Ferguson for a four to bring up the 200 at the start of the 45th over and clipped the pacer away for another boundary right after. Ferguson had the last laugh in the same over when Miller top edged deep to Trent Boult at third man.
Boult had bowled Quinton de Kock for 5 to win an early battle but finished on 1-63.
Ferguson did the most damage with 3-59 while Matt Henry bowled tightly, with two maidens, ending on 0-34.
Martin Guptill became the first New Zealander to be dismissed by hitting his own wicket in any Cricket World Cup tournament, dating back as far as 1975. In the end it didn’t matter.