Emerging Cape Cobras v Pakistanis, Cape Town, 1st day
Impressive Irfan makes case for Test debut
Pakistanis 127 for 4 (Misbah 44*, Bothma 2-19) trail Emerging Cape Cobras 156 (Kleinveldt 36, Irfan 4-20) by 29 runs
Pakistan's seven-foot-plus seamer Mohammad Irfan made a strong case for a Test debut in a two-day match against the Emerging Cape Cobras, taking four wickets. The ten-day break between the first and second Test gave the touring team time to fit in another practice match and try different combinations ahead of the second Test in Cape Town which starts on Thursday.
The opposition is made up of players who feature in the provincial competition - still regarded as first-class but not franchise cricket - and are of a similar composition to the team that got a run against the New Zealanders late last year. Notable among them are Matthew Kleinveldt, cousin of Rory, Sybrand Engelbrecht who has played some franchise cricket and left-arm spinner Siya Simetu.
But they were no match for the Pakistani attack despite the visitors resting Umar Gul and Junaid Khan and were bundled out for 156. The visitors gave their bench strength including Tanvir Ahmed and Ehsan Adil some match time, along with Rahat Ali, who debuted at the Wanderers. Rahat was economical and incisive and took 2 for 27 but Irfan stole the show.
Irfan broke a 62-run stand between Kleinveldt and Keegan Petersen to spark a mini-collapse. The emerging Cape Cobras lost four wickets for 23 runs and their middle-and lower-order could not stand up to the Pakistani attack.
Irfan took 4 for 20 while Abdur Rehman spun his way to 3 for 31. Tanvir was expensive but Ehsan also kept the run-rate low and could present Pakistan with another option for the second Test. Sarfraz Ahmed had another solid showing behind the stumps and took three catches and a stumping.
They will still have concerns about their batting though. The openers did not manage to negotiate the new ball as Misbah-ul-Haq would have wanted them to when he identified that as the main area for Pakistan to work on in the break. With Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed both allowed to put their feet up, Imran Farhat was given a run but made just 11.
Azhar Ali was promoted to the top, presumably so he could spend time against the new ball, but he too did not last long. A 48-minute 11 is all he had to show. Younis Khan's lean run continued and at 29 for 3, the Pakistanis would have been biting their fingernails with worry. Johannes Bothma, a 24-year-old quick from Boland, had two of the three scalps.
Faisal Iqbal, who did not play in the first Test, showed some fight with a sprightly 33 but it was down to the captain and Asad Shafiq who remain at the crease overnight. Because the match is not an official first-class game, both sides can field 13 players and the Pakistanis may consider giving Hafeez, in particular, and Jamshed batting time on the second day.