No play possible on day four in Rawalpindi

By Sports Desk December 14, 2019

No play was possible on day four of the first Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka due to a wet outfield at Pindi Cricket Stadium.

Only 32 balls were bowled on Friday due to overnight rain and bad light, after just 18.2 overs of action for the same reasons on the second day.

There was further frustration on Saturday, with play called off at midday due to more bad weather in Rawalpindi.

Sri Lanka were due to resume on 282-6 in the only innings of the match so far, Dhananjaya de Silva unbeaten on 87.

The first Test in Pakistan for a decade is destined to end in a draw.

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    Wade, 33, came under fire for several poor dismissals as Australia suffered a 2-1 series loss to an injury-hit India.

    He finished the series with 173 runs at an average of 21.6 and was left out of the squad set to face South Africa, although the tour is subject to a final sign-off.

    In what is a similar squad to the one that went down to India, Alex Carey was included with Wade omitted, while Tim Paine remains captain despite criticism.

    "The squad is quite similar to that selected for the final two Tests of the recently-completed Border-Gavaskar series, with the exception of Matt Wade, who will join the Australian men's T20I squad in New Zealand, and the addition of Alex Carey, who has been in strong form with both bat and gloves," Australia national selector Trevor Hohns said.

    "David Warner, Will Pucovski and Marcus Harris all opened at different stages against India and should be well-suited to the conditions in South Africa. Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith were in good form during the Australian summer and Travis Head has an opportunity to reclaim the number five spot.

    "We've been very impressed with Cameron Green's first foray into Test cricket as an all-rounder batting at number six and we have great depth with the in-form Moises Henriques also in the squad.

    "Tim Paine was excellent at number seven against India and as a batsman, wicketkeeper and captain still has much to offer in the Test arena.

    "Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Swepson offer wonderful spin bowling options for South African conditions. Similarly, we like the skill, execution and variation offered by our pace corps of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Sean Abbott and Mark Steketee."

    Wade was named in an 18-man T20 squad set to face New Zealand in five matches, beginning on February 22.

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  • Rabada burst puts Pakistan in the mire as 14 wickets fall on day one Rabada burst puts Pakistan in the mire as 14 wickets fall on day one

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    The Proteas, touring Pakistan for the first time in 14 years, were dismissed for 220 after winning the toss at the National Stadium on Tuesday, Yasir Shah taking 3-54.

    Dean Elgar (58) made a half-century but South Africa lost four wickets in the afternoon session and were all out not long after tea, debutant Nauman Ali and paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi finishing with two wickets apiece.

    Rabada, playing his first Test for just over a year, then brought Pakistan back down to earth as he took 2-8 in six overs and they were in deep trouble on 33-4 at stumps.

    Fit-again paceman Rabada removed Imran Butt for only nine on his debut and dismissed Abid Ali before Keshav Maharaj claimed the huge scalp of Babar Azam for just seven in his first innings as Test captain.

    Anrich Nortje got in on the act by seeing the back of nightwatchman Afridi and Pakistan will resume on day two trailing by 187 runs.

    The tourists had early been going along nicely on 63-1 until Rassie van der Dussen was run out by a combination of Babar and Mohammad Rizwan and they stumbled to 179-6 at tea, Elgar edging Nauman (2-38) to Babar at first slip after digging in for a valuable half-century.

    George Linde chipped in with 35 before falling to the recalled Hasan Ali and Rabada made an unbeaten 21 before making a big impact with the ball as South Africa hit back late in the day to take the upper hand.

    Proteas in a spin

    Pakistan are without a win in five Tests and arrived home smarting from a 2-0 loss in New Zealand but made an encouraging start to this two-match series.

    A brilliant slip catch from Butt off the bowling of Afridi accounted for Aiden Markram, but it was the spinners who did the bulk of the damage. Yasir got rid of Faf du Plessis, while Nauman – the fourth-oldest Test debutant for Pakistan aged 34 – claimed the scalps of skipper Quinton de Kock and Elgar as South Africa folded.

    Rapid Rabada on brink of 200 club

    Rabada came steaming in with the new ball to turn the tide, sending Abid Ali's off stump cartwheeling out of the ground before snaring Butt, who was caught at leg gully.

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  • Babar Azam back to lead Pakistan as De Kock gets set to reach Test landmark Babar Azam back to lead Pakistan as De Kock gets set to reach Test landmark

    Babar Azam will finally get the chance to lead Pakistan in Test cricket as a two-match series against South Africa begins in Karachi on Tuesday.  

    Batsman Babar was appointed to the role last November, yet missed both Tests on the tour of New Zealand, as well as the Twenty20 series that followed, after suffering a fractured thumb during a practice session.  

    Mohammad Rizwan took charge in the regular skipper’s absence, though he was unable to prevent Pakistan slipping to a 2-0 defeat against the Black Caps.  

    The return of Babar on home soil is a boost, not least because he will bolster a batting line-up that struggled badly in New Zealand.  

    Shan Masood has lost his place at the top of the order following a lack of runs, while the Pakistan selectors also left out Haris Sohail and Mohammad Abbas from an initial 20-man squad.  

    Opener Imran Butt is set to make his Test debut at the National Stadium, a venue where the home team have lost only one of their last seven Tests, albeit that defeat did come against the Proteas, back in October 2007.  

    Both Shadab Khan and Naseem Shah are missing due to injuries, while Abbas' absence from the bowling attack could lead to a recall for Hasan Ali.

    As for South Africa, they have arrived fresh from a 2-0 series sweep over Sri Lanka. Quinton de Kock continues in charge, the wicketkeeper-batsman set to play in his 50th Test in the opener. 

    The Proteas captain has Kagiso Rabada available again, bolstering a pace attack that performed so impressively against Sri Lanka without him. With Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi and Lutho Sipamla also vying to play, there are a wealth of options when it comes to seam bowling.

    However, the balancing act for South Africa will come over whether to select two spinners. Tabraiz Shamsi is the likely option to come into the XI, joining forces with fellow slow bowler Keshav Maharaj. 
     

    NO PLACE LIKE HOME 

    His absence keenly felt in New Zealand, Babar will be determined to make up for lost time when he goes up against South Africa in his homeland. 

    The stylish right-hander has scored 50 or more in each of his four Test innings in Pakistan, including three centuries. His batting average in the country (202.5) is the best by any player in Test history there. 
     

    MILESTONES IN SIGHT FOR DE KOCK 

    There is the potential for not one but two major milestones for De Kock, who had a relatively quiet series with the bat against Sri Lanka. 

    The destructive left-hander is just 38 away from becoming the 16th player to score 3,000 Test runs for South Africa. He equalled his highest Test score (129) in his most recent innings against Pakistan two years ago, too. 


    KEY MATCH FACTS

    - South Africa have lost only one of their 10 multi-game Test series against Pakistan (W6, D3), that loss coming when they toured Pakistan in 2003 (1-0).

    - Lutho Sipamla finished with a bowling strike-rate of 23.9 in the Proteas' most recent Test series (10 wickets against Sri Lanka), the best by any player. 

    - Pakistan have lost only one of their last eight Test series on home soil (W5, D2), though that solitary setback came against South Africa (1-0 in October 2007).

    - Mohammad Rizwan has scored 50+ in five of his previous six Test innings, having done so only once in his first 11 at the crease in the format.

    - Faf du Plessis has faced Shaheen Afridi in three Test innings heading into this series, being dismissed by the Pakistan paceman on each occasion while scoring just 27 runs in response.

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