Joe Root once again led from the front for England, marking his 100th Test match with another glorious hundred against India in Chennai.

Visiting captain Root came to the crease before lunch on day one of the first Test after the tourists lost Rory Burns and Dan Lawrence, the latter for nought, with the score on 63.

Alongside opener Dom Sibley, who was trapped lbw for a typically robust 87 by Jasprit Bumrah from the final ball of the day, Root came through a stern examination before making hay as the India attack tired.

It was another sparkling display from the 30-year-old right-hander, whose 128 not out followed scores of 228 and 186 during last month's 2-0 win in Sri Lanka and left England 263-3 at stumps.

Rory Burns was back at the top of the England order having sat out the previous tour due to the birth of his first child and the Surrey left-hander looked in fine touch after Root won the toss, delightfully clipping Ravichandran Ashwin through midwicket after he and Sibley brought up the fifty partnership.

But Ashwin (1-68) had his revenge in an awful moment for Burns, who misjudged a reverse sweep to loop a simple catch to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant and depart for 33.

Lawrence was promoted up the order after Zak Crawley was ruled out with a sprained wrist, and India skipper Virat Kohli decided to see how he might fare against quality pace bowling. He soon had an answer as Bumrah (2-40) found reverse swing to pin the Essex man in front.

Root survived a strong lbw appeal from Ishant Sharma and he and Sibley were forced to dig in against some high standard bowling either side of lunch.

Again displaying impeccable balance and judgement, Root initially put away the sweep shot that served him so well in Sri Lanka and was watchful against Ashwin and slow left-armer Shahbaz Nadeem on a surface displaying more bounce than expected.

He started to move through the repertoire when all-rounder Washington Sundar entered the attack. The partnership was 77 when England reached tea at 140-2, with Sibley through to a half-century.

They motored on in the evening session, with Root reaching three figures with a trademark tuck behind square into the leg side before shedding his earlier inhibitions and bludgeoning Ashwin for a slog-swept six. He must continue on Saturday without Sibley, whose 286-ball vigil came to a cruel end.

England captain Joe Root has become the ninth player in history to score a century in his 100th Test match.

The 30-year-old made his milestone appearance on day one of the first Test against India in Chennai on Friday.

During a terrific third-wicket stand with Dom Sibley, Root marked a memorable day with the 20th Test ton of his international career off just 164 balls.

Only eight players have previously celebrated a century of Test caps by scoring 100 runs, the last being Hashim Amla, who scored 134 for South Africa against Sri Lanka in January 2017.

The highest such score for a centurion is 149, set by Gordon Greenidge for the West Indies against England back in April 1990.

Root is just the third Englishman on the list, following Colin Cowdrey in 1968 and Alec Stewart in 2000.

England lost Rory Burns for 33 and Dan Lawrence for a duck before Root and Sibley began to nullify the India attack.

England were 227-2 as Root celebrated a third century in as many Tests, with Sibley on 83 from 250 deliveries.

India all-rounder Axar Patel has been ruled out of the opening Test against England, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced on Friday.

Patel, 27, will sit out the first of four Tests after complaining of pain in his left knee following Thursday's training session.

As a result, spinners Shahbaz Nadeem and Rahul Chahar have been added to the squad, with the opening Test due to get underway in Chennai on Friday.

India are coming off a series victory over Australia, where they were depleted due to injuries in the blockbuster showdown.

Virat Kohli's India have managed to win each of their last 10 multi-game bilateral Test series played on home soil, that run beginning after they suffered a 2-1 series defeat at the hands of England in 2012.

No visiting men's Test side have beaten India at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium during the 21st Century (D3 L5) – Pakistan being the last team to do so in the format (1999).

England have managed to record five overseas Test wins in succession ahead of this match - their longest such run since 1914 (seven in a row between 1911 and 1914).

Joe Root is set to become the 15th man to appear in 100 Test matches for England and has the chance to equal Michael Vaughan's record of 26 Test wins as England skipper (currently 25).

Joe Root is used to reaching milestones, but the batsman will bring up a special Test century when he leads England in the series opener against India.  

For Root, the game in Chennai – the first of four in the series – will see him make his 100th Test appearance. He will become just the 15th Englishman to get to the landmark in the format and the 69th overall. 

The fresh-faced 21-year-old who made his debut in India in 2012 is now a fresh-faced 30-year-old considered one of the best in the world, with his memories of that maiden outing still helping to shape the player he is.

"Walking out for the first time in an England shirt would probably be the proudest moment," he said.

"I look back at walking out to bat and seeing Kevin Pietersen at the other end, someone I watched as a teenager and as a kid growing up, and I just couldn't stop smiling. I was living my childhood dream and have been ever since.

"Whenever I'm going through a lean spell or things aren't quite falling for me, I try to look back at that moment and remember what that feeling was like – almost try and embrace that really excitable young lad and bring that into the current situation."

THE HIGHS AND LOWS AHEAD OF A BUSY YEAR 

To say 2021 will be a busy year for Root is an understatement. While not currently part of England's plans in Twenty20 cricket, meaning he seems set to miss out on the World Cup in India in October and November, there is plenty on the Test captain's plate.  

The tour to India will see England play four of their scheduled 17 Tests across the calendar year, a schedule that includes a home series against the same opponents, the visit of ICC Test Championship finalists New Zealand and, after that busy summer, the small matter of an Ashes tour.  

He made an outstanding start with 426 runs on the recent tour of Sri Lanka, helping England secure a 2-0 series sweep that extended their winning streak overseas to five matches, their best run away since 1914.  

Yet Root went into that tour off the back of a below-par year. His top score in 2020 was 68, though he still finished with an average of 42.2, narrowly better than 2018 (41.2) and 2019 (37). The right-hander managed as many three-figure scores in January as he recorded across the previous two years combined.  

If England are to prosper on what will undoubtedly be a long and tough road ahead, Root will need to lead from the front. Captaincy has seen his batting numbers suffer – he averages 45.7 as skipper, compared to 52.8 beforehand – but the signs are some tinkering during time off has allowed him to rediscover his best form at just the right time.

RUNS ON TOUR, FANTASTIC AT FOUR 

India has been a happy destination for Root on previous trips, including hitting 124 in the drawn series opener on the 2016 tour. It was also the country where he made his Test bow, four years earlier. Batting at six, an innings of 73 offered a demonstration of his undoubted skill. 

The Yorkshireman has had plenty of other good moments against India: they are one of five opposing nations he has scored over 1,000 Test runs against. Only Alastair Cook (seven) has managed it against more countries for England.  

Australia is also on that list for Root, who will be hoping to improve on a career average of 38 when he heads Down Under again later this year. His first tour there in 2013-14 was particularly tough, with a run of low scores leading to him being left out of the XI in Sydney. It was a rare low point, while also serving as motivation to make sure it never happened again.  

His 2017-18 tour was more productive, albeit without a three-figure score. Conversion rates are often used as a measurement when comparing the leading names, and Root’s numbers – 19 centuries but 49 scores between 50 and 99 – have been used against him when held up alongside Virat Kohli, Steve Smith and Kane Williamson.  

The needs of the team have seen him moved up and down the order, away from his favoured place at four. That position has seen him score 10 of his Test hundreds, while only Kevin Pietersen (6,490) and Denis Compton (4,234) have amassed more runs when occupying that spot for England.  

"I know previous captains have preferred to get out there early and just get amongst it but I quite like to split the two and to really focus on my batting," he said in November 2019 during a tour to New Zealand. "I've found over time that, generally, I've consistently played better in that position."  

The numbers back up his statement; Root has a 52.2 average when listed at four in the batting order. Only at five (69.1) has he done better, albeit with a far smaller sample size.

ENGLAND EXPECTS AND THE PURSUIT OF TENDULKAR 

During his brilliant double hundred in the first Test in Sri Lanka, Root became the seventh Englishman to reach 8,000 runs in the format.   

By the end of the trip, he had moved past Geoffrey Boycott, Pietersen and David Gower on the all-time run-scoring list for his country – and it is unlikely he will have to wait long to overtake two more legendary names.  

Root’s tally after 99 Tests stands at 8,249 runs. Alec Stewart (8,463) and Graham Gooch (8,900) are firmly in his sights, particularly when you consider the number of games to come this year.  

However, Cook is well clear at the top. The opening batsman and former skipper finished with 12,472 runs in 161 appearances. Only four men in the history of the game have managed more, Sachin Tendulkar (15,921 runs in 200 Tests) leading the way.  

Could Root potentially chase Tendulkar down? He is about to hit the halfway point in terms of number of games in the head-to-head comparison, yet is ahead of schedule in terms of output. He has only missed two Test matches since his debut, while a decision at some stage along the line to focus solely on the longest format of the game could extend his Test career even further. 

Such talk of individual records is likely to be of little concern for the man himself, though. Reaching 100 Tests is an impressive achievement for Root, who will hope it is not his last century in the months to come. 

Babar Azam and Fawad Alam halted a worrying start to the second Test between Pakistan and South Africa before rain stopped play at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Thursday.

Pakistan won the opening Test but lost three wickets for just one run as they were reduced to 22-3 in a promising first session for the Proteas on day one.

However, like he did with a century in Karachi last week, Fawad (42no) helped get the hosts back on track by establishing a 123-run partnership with captain Babar (77no).

The pair displayed some wonderful shots as they took the match to South Africa, with Babar racking up 12 fours and Fawad five but rain during tea stopped them returning on 145-3.

Keshav Maharaj would have had a first-ball wicket had Temba Bavuma held on to Imran Butt (15) at first slip on 13 but he got his man courtesy of a sharp catch from wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, making his final appearance as Test captain.

Maharaj (2-51) had Azhar Ali lbw for a duck in his next over and Pakistan looked in serious trouble when Aiden Markram reacted brilliantly at short leg after Anrich Nortje's rapid delivery struck Abid Ali (6) on the thigh and zoomed towards him.

However, Babar responded by getting off the mark with back-to-back boundaries and, alongside Karachi hero Fawad, steered the hosts to lunch without further loss.

The duo continued to assert themselves and Babar brought up his 16th Test half-century and took Pakistan into triple figures with a fine shot in front of square.

Kagiso Rabada thought he had made the breakthrough but his appeal for lbw against Babar was ignored, with replays showing the skipper sent an inside edge onto his pads.

South Africa were unable to break the impressive fourth-wicket stand before tea and heavy rainfall denied them the chance to make further inroads during the final session.

 

PEAKY LINDE

George Linde left the field during the first session for an X-ray after hurting a finger on his left bowling hand while fielding.

He did not sustain a fracture but received stitches and practiced bowling with protective strapping on before stepping back inside the ropes before tea.

Linde did not bowl another over, but the Proteas will be hoping he can do so before the end of the match, with Dean Elgar having stepped up as a second spin option.

Zak Crawley will miss England's first two Tests against India after suffering a sprained wrist.

The batsman sustained the setback when he slipped outside the dressing room in Chennai on Tuesday.

He will now be sidelined for the opening pair of fixtures as England head into a four-match series with Virat Kohli's side.

"Following the results of last night's scan, England top-order batsman Zak Crawley has been ruled out of the first two Tests of the India versus England series," read Thursday's statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board.

"Scan results have confirmed that Crawley has jarred his right wrist, which has sprained the joint and led to local inflammation.

"The Kent player sustained the injury during England's practice in Chennai on Tuesday when he slipped on the marble floor leaving the dressing rooms onto the field of play.

"The England medical team will continue to assess his progress over the next few weeks."

Crawley opened in Sri Lanka in the absence of Rory Burns but looked set to move to number three at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium after Jonny Bairstow was rested.

England will now have to rethink the order, although there was positive news over Ollie Pope, who has recovered from a shoulder injury and could make his comeback after being added to the squad.

India are favourites to carry on where they left off in Australia and spoil England captain Joe Root's 100th Test in Chennai.

Depleted India defied the odds to come from behind and secure a 2-1 series win in Australia despite being without a host of key players, including captain Virat Kohli.

Kohli returns from paternity leave to lead the side after Ajinkya Rahane filled in superbly in his absence, while Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin have recovered from injuries but Ravindra Jadeja (broken thumb) misses out.

India are in pole position to seal their place in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand, but England and Australia can also qualify.

In-form skipper Root will become the 15th England player to win a century of Test caps when the four-match series starts at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium on Friday.

Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Rory Burns return, while Jonny Bairstow, Mark Wood and Sam Curran have been given a rest following the recent 2-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka.

The tourists could be without Zak Crawley after the batsman injured his right wrist when slipping outside the changing room, but Ollie Pope is poised to make his comeback from a shoulder injury.

England have won just one Test series in India since 1984-85, losing four and drawing one since then other than a triumph in 2012.

 

What are the Test Championship permutations?

The postponement of the series between South Africa and Australia ensured the Black Caps will play in the first Test Championship final.

Kane Williamson's side will face India at Lord's if they beat England 2-0, 2-1, 3-0, 3-1 or 4-0.

England must win at least three matches in India to set up another final against New Zealand, so Root's men are very much outsiders. 

Australia will qualify if England win the series without winning three matches, while they will also take on their trans-Tasman rivals if the series is drawn or India come out on top 1-0.

 

Centurion Root leading by example 

Root failed to make a hundred for England last year, but the prolific captain showed class is permanent in Sri Lanka.

The 30-year-old made a magnificent 228 in his first innings of the series and struck a brilliant 186 in the second Test, making a strong statement at the start of a hectic year for England.

Root averaged 106.50 as he delivered a masterclass of how to bat against spin and will be relishing the battle with the India attack.

He is just one win away from matching Michael Vaughan's record of 26 Test wins as England skipper and achieving that feat in the Yorkshireman's 100th match would be extra special.

 


KEY MATCH FACTS

- Four of the last five Test series between the two sides have been won by England, who eased to a 4-1 victory when they last did battle in 2018.

- India have won their last 10 multi-game bilateral Test series on home soil, that run beginning after they suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of England in 2012.

- India have recorded five wins to England's three when facing off against each other at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium. India have won three in a row at the Chennai venue.

- No touring side has won at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium during the 21st century (D3 L5) – Pakistan being the last team to do so in the format (1999).

- England are on a run five away Test wins in succession – their longest such run since 1914 (seven in a row between 1911 and 1914).

England batsman Zak Crawley is a doubt for the first Test against India after suffering a wrist injury. 

Crawley slipped outside the dressing room in Chennai on Tuesday and it is feared he may have suffered a fracture just three days before England start a four-match series with Virat Kohli's side. 

He must now wait for scan results to discover the extent of the injury, which he suffered on the eve of his 23rd birthday. 

An England and Wales Cricket Board statement said: "Zak Crawley did not train today at England's practice session in Chennai. 

"He slipped outside the dressing room yesterday (Tuesday) and has injured his right wrist. 

"We are waiting on the results of scans and will know more tomorrow, ahead of our final practice. There is nothing further to add at this stage." 

Crawley opened in Sri Lanka in the absence of Rory Burns, but looked set to move to number three at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium after Jonny Bairstow was rested. 

England will have to rethink the order if he is unavailable, although there was positive news over Ollie Pope, who has recovered from a shoulder injury and could make his comeback after being added to the squad.

South Africa will want to avoid being on the wrong end of a series sweep as they aim to end a barren run in Asia when they go up against Pakistan in the second Test. 

Having suffered a seven-wicket defeat in Rawalpindi, the Proteas are now winless in their previous 13 Tests on the subcontinent, a dismal run of form that followed a 153-run victory over Sri Lanka in Galle in July 2014. 

The tourists were undone by Pakistan's spin pairing of Yasir Shah and Nauman Ali in the first game, with the duo taking 14 of the 20 South Africa wickets to fall at the National Stadium. 

However, the venue for the second Test could offer a little more help to the quicker bowlers, a welcome boost for struggling South Africa as they bid to draw level. 

Their plans for the first Test were hampered by the late withdrawal of Tabraiz Shamsi, who suffered a back issue in the warm-up and had to be replaced by paceman Lungi Ngidi.  

Shamsi has recovered in time to be considered for selection, while opening batsman Dean Elgar is also fit to play after a taking a nasty blow to the hand while batting in his team's second innings. 

South Africa fought hard in the face of a hefty first-innings deficit but were left with too much to do after only making 220 on day one. Amid the frustration, all the top seven in the order reached double figures but failed to build on it, their cause not helped by both Rassie van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma getting run out. 

As for the hosts, their line-up may well depend on the pitch. Considering the balance of the side worked so well last time out, it could be they go with the same XI again. 

The top order did struggle but Fawad Alam's century and a wagging tail helped rescue their first innings, having at one stage slumped to 27-4 late on day one. Babar Azam had a quiet debut in his role as Test captain in terms of his output with the bat, managing 37 runs in his two knocks.

CAPTAINCY SWANSONG FOR DE KOCK? 

It appears Quinton de Kock is set for his final Test in charge of the Proteas – for now at least. The wicketkeeper-batsman may have been set to continue in the role for the Tests against Australia on home soil, but that series has been postponed. Instead, the break will allow De Kock to get some well-earned rest and team management to assess their options. 

"When we get back after this tour we've got a bit of time before our next series so we can sit down and make a good, solid call on who can take over from him and release him from that burden and try and get the best out of him," South Africa coach Mark Boucher said on the eve of the game. 

 
SPINNERS IN SIGHT FOR YASIR 

Yasir played a pivotal role in the opener, finishing with match figures of 7-133. His haul in Karachi takes his career tally in Tests to 234 wickets, meaning he is just three shy of fifth place on the all-time list for Pakistan.  

The great Abdul Qadir currently occupies the spot, while another leg-spinner in Danish Kaneria sits third on 261. However, there is some way to go to catch the bowler on top; Wasim Akram finished his career with 414 wickets at a ridiculously impressive average of 23.62.  


KEY MATCH FACTS

- South Africa will be looking to avoid a fourth consecutive multi-game Test series loss away from home; it would be the first time the Proteas have lost as many such series in succession since losing each of their first seven in the format (July 1907 – February 1932).

- Pakistan won their most recent Test at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium by an innings and 44 runs (against Bangladesh, February 2020). They will be aiming to secure back-to-back triumphs at the venue for the first time.

- Babar Azam has scored a century in each of his previous two Test innings in Rawalpindi; no player has more at the venue in the format (Saeed Anwar and Michael Slater also have two).

- Pakistan have dropped 13 catches in Tests so far this year, the most by any side and one of only two in double figures (India – 10).

- Kagiso Rabada has a bowling strike rate of 41.1 in Test cricket, the best by any player to take at least 150 wickets in the format.

- Faheem Ashraf finished with the best dot ball percentage (89.3 per cent) of any bowler in the first Test, though it was the first time he has failed to claim a wicket.

Jofra Archer insists his scintillating Indian Premier League form will count for nothing when England take on India in this week's first Test. 

Fast bowler Archer has taken 46 wickets across three seasons in the IPL, the first two of which took place in India. 

During the 2020 edition, which was moved to the United Arab Emirates due to the coronavirus pandemic, he claimed 20 at an average of 18.25. 

Despite showing he can thrive in conditions that are traditionally unforgiving for pacemen, Archer insists moving from Twenty20 cricket to the longest format presents an entirely different challenge for his considerable skills. 

"It's a different ball. I've never played red ball over here," he said. 

"White ball is a whole different dynamic, so you can't really compare the two."

Archer is back in the England fold after being rested for the 2-0 series win over Sri Lanka. 

Spinners Dom Bess and Jack Leach lead the way with 12 and 10 wickets respectively for the tourists and Archer is not averse to putting in the hard yards in India if it means the slower bowlers getting the glory. 

"It doesn't really matter - whatever's for the team, whatever's going to contribute to the win," he said. "If it means me and the other seamers have got to do the hard work then so be it. 

"We've already had a bowling meeting. We'll probably have one more before the game when we see the wicket we're going to have. 

"Then we'll come up with a plan and stick to it wholeheartedly. 

"Everyone [in the India line-up] is good at home, it doesn’t matter who. From one to six they can score hundreds."

Friday's first Test in Chennai will be captain Joe Root's 100th for England.

Back-to-back centuries in Sri Lanka means Root approaches the landmark in imperious form and Archer believes his skipper still has plenty left in the tank.

"He's really reassuring. Not just for me but for every single person in the team," he said.

"He's a great man manager, a great person as well.

"I'm not surprised that he's played 100 Tests. He's probably got another 70 left in him.

"This is definitely not the end, not near the end."

Graeme Smith has admitted Cricket South Africa (CSA) was left "extremely disappointed" with the decision taken by Australia to pull out of their upcoming tour.

A three-Test series was scheduled to take place in March, but Cricket Australia (CA) announced on Tuesday that those plans had been shelved due to the public health situation in South Africa amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The country was dealing with over 10,000 positive COVID-19 cases a day at the start of January and while that number has since dropped considerably, there is also a new variant of the virus.

However, having done all possible to appease safety concerns and establish protocols so the tour could take place as planned, CSA director of cricket Smith revealed the frustration at the late cancellation.

"We are extremely disappointed by the decision of CA," former Proteas captain Smith said. "CSA has been working tirelessly in recent weeks to ensure that we meet every single expectation of CA.

"This was set to be the longest tour in a BSE (bio-secure environment) comprising a three-match Test series that was scheduled to begin with Australia's arrival later in the month. So to be informed about the CA decision at the eleventh hour is frustrating."

Dr Shuaib Manjra, chief medical officer for CSA, explained how the organisation had done everything possible during the planning stage, including proposing protocols to their Australian counterparts that were "unprecedented".

The cancellation has ramifications for the inaugural ICC World Test Championship, too. New Zealand are now certain to be playing in the final later this year, where they will go up against either England, India or Australia.

Pholetsi Moseki, acting CEO for CSA, said: "It is indeed sad that after all the engagements and effort made to ensure a secure visit by our Australian counterparts, the tour has been derailed.

"CSA has incurred significant costs related to the planning stages and the cancellation of the tour represents a serious financial loss."

South Africa are currently on tour in Pakistan, with the second of two Tests set to start on Thursday in Rawalpindi.

They will also play a three-match Twenty20 series against their hosts - with all the white-ball fixtures to be staged in Lahore - before returning home in the middle of February.

Australia's forthcoming tour of South Africa has been called off due to health and safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A three-Test tour was scheduled to take place in March, but Cricket Australia (CA) announced on Tuesday that the plans had been shelved.

South Africa has been contending with a spike in cases in January and a new variant of COVID-19.

CA interim CEO Nick Hockley said: "Due to the public health situation in South Africa, which includes a second wave and a new variant of the virus, and following extensive due diligence with medical experts, it has become clear that travelling from Australia to South Africa at this current time poses an unacceptable level of health and safety risk to our players, support staff and the community.

"We acknowledge the significant amount of work by CSA [Cricket South Africa] in planning for the tour, during which we made it clear that CA was prepared to take on additional cost and effort to make the series happen.

"This decision has not been made lightly and we are extremely disappointed, especially given the importance of continuing international cricket at this time, our valued relationship with CSA, and our aspirations to compete in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship.

"However, we have been consistent since the start of the pandemic that the health and safety of our people is always our number one priority and unfortunately despite best efforts to agree to a biosecurity plan, the risks are simply too great at this time.

"As difficult and disappointing a decision as this is, especially for Justin [Langer], Tim [Paine] and the team, we have a duty of care to our people and their health and safety can't be compromised.

"We look forward to playing the series against CSA at a date to be confirmed in due course and we send CSA and the people of South Africa our very best wishes for a successful rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine and a return to normality soon."

England travelled to South Africa for a limited-overs series in November and December but the three one-day matches were abandoned after positive coronavirus tests in both camps.

Nauman Ali claimed a maiden five-wicket haul to help Pakistan win the first Test against South Africa in Karachi, despite an early wobble in their run chase.

Having bowled out the Proteas for 245 in the first session on day four, the hosts lost openers Abid Ali and Imran Butt to slip to 23-2 when needing 88.

However, captain Babar Azam made 30 and despite his departure on the brink of victory, trapped lbw by Keshav Maharaj, first-innings centurion Fawad Alam hit the winning boundary to seal a seven-wicket triumph. Azhar Ali, meanwhile, finished up unbeaten on 31.

South Africa have now lost eight successive Tests overseas. They had resumed on 187-4 but managed to add just a further 58 runs for the loss of their final six wickets, debutant Nauman taking four of them as he finished with 5-35 from 25.3 overs.

Nightwatchman Maharaj was dismissed by the first ball of the day, bowled by one that kept a little low from paceman Hasan Ali.

Proteas captain Quinton de Kock then fell to Yasir Shah for two, giving the leg spinner a fourth wicket of the innings.

From then on, though, Nauman took charge. He worked his way through the tail and while Temba Bavuma battled hard, the batsman was last man out when trapped lbw by the left-arm spinner for 40.

Anrich Nortje gave the tourists a glimmer of hope when he dismissed both opening batsmen straight after the lunch break, but South Africa will rue a late clatter of wickets on day three having battled so hard with the bat to wipe out a first-innings deficit of 168.

 

Nauman makes an immediate impact

At 34 years and 111 days, Nauman was the fourth oldest debutant for Pakistan in the format. The wait proved worthwhile, though, as he finished with impressive match figures of 7-73.

While Yasir claimed the key scalp of De Kock, it was his fellow slow bowler who made sure the home team were left with a manageable target on a tired pitch showing obvious signs of variable bounce.

Babar celebrates home comforts

Despite his late dismissal - falling for a second time in the game to the left-arm spin of Maharaj - Babar can reflect on a satisfying first outing as Test skipper, having missed the 2-0 series defeat in New Zealand due to injury.

As was the case against the Black Caps, the top order struggled for runs. However, Fawad's superb first-innings century helped lead a recovery and the result means Pakistan cannot lose the series now. The second and final match takes place in Rawalpindi, starting on February 4.

Kagiso Rabada put his impressive achievement of reaching 200 Test wickets down to hard work but insisted the "show goes on" after becoming the third fastest South African to reach the milestone.  

The Proteas paceman claimed 3-70 in Pakistan’s first innings during the series opener in Karachi, with the last of those wickets seeing him get to the notable personal landmark in his international career.  

Hasan Ali was bowled to see Rabada make it to 200 on day three of his 44th Test outing; only Dale Steyn (39) and Allan Donald (42) have managed it in fewer appearances for South Africa.  

He is also the third quickest ever when it comes to deliveries bowled – Waqar Younis and Steyn sit above him on that list – having recorded nine five-wicket hauls and taken 10 in a match on four occasions.  

For Rabada, there remains the appetite within to keep on improving, worrying words for opposing batsmen around the world when you consider he is still just 25. 

"It's just hard work and spending a lot of time on your craft, seeing where you can get better," Rabada told the media about his success in the Test arena. "Analysing it, but not over-thinking it.  

"It hasn't all been easy – you find yourself trying to perfect something that might seem so simple, but it's constant repetition, hours and hours of work, so being relentless with that and trying to see how much better you can get and finding ways."

Asked about being in the same company as compatriot Steyn and Pakistan great Waqar when it comes to balls bowled, Rabada replied: "It's a massive feat to be included in a list of such names.  

"When you start playing you don't ever think that you'd be on such a list and have such statistics. All you want to do is the best that you can. 

"I'm really glad, it's satisfying; it's a great milestone, but the show goes on."

Rabada missed the chance to bring up his 200th wicket on home soil as he did not feature in the recent series against Sri Lanka in South Africa, the Proteas understandably taking no risks with their premier strike bowler upon his return from a groin injury.

It meant his appearance against Pakistan was his first in the format since the third match of the series against England, back in January 2020. 

"Test cricket never gets old, never gets any easier as well – you are constantly challenged," Rabada explained upon his return to duty for his country

"Playing in Pakistan as well, it's quite an amazing place. The only place that I haven't played previously, so I'm glad to have the opportunity to play here.  

"It's been hard work, just like any Test match, especially in the subcontinent where you have to be more patient. It teaches you a lot of lessons and I've been reminded of some of them."

Fawad Alam made his third Test century as Pakistan took the upper hand on a frustrating day two for South Africa in Karachi.

Pakistan resumed on Wednesday in deep trouble on 33-4 in reply to the Proteas' 220 all out but recovered to 308-8 at stumps with an 88-run lead at the National Stadium.

Fawad made a superb 109, while Azhar Ali (51) and Faheem Ashraf (64) also played big hands as Babar Azam's side turned the tide following such a dramatic opening day of the two-match series.

Left-hander Fawad was dropped on 35 and 92 by Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock respectively before bringing up his hundred with a six off spinner Keshav Maharaj.

The Proteas failed to take a wicket in the first session, which ended with Pakistan on 104-4, but former captain Azhar was caught behind off Maharaj (2-71) to end a stand of 94 with Fawad after digging in for a 33rd half-century in the longest format.

Mohammad Rizwan (33) fell to Lungi Ngidi in the final over before tea to leave Pakistan 176-6, but Fawad and Faheem took Pakistan into the lead with a partnership of 102.

Ngidi (2-55) ended Fawad's brilliant 245-ball knock and Faheem played on to an Anrich Nortje (2-84) yorker, but it was very much Pakistan's day, with Maharaj denied a third wicket when he bowled Hasan Ali but over-stepped.

Fawad making up for lost time

Middle-order batsman Fawad has made up for lost time after being recalled to face England last August almost 11 years after his previous Test appearance.

The left-hander was rattled on the helmet by Kagiso Rabada and had some deserved fortune as he played superbly to put Pakistan in a strong position.

Fawad has gone on to reach three figures on all three occasions he has made a half-century. He struck two sixes and found the rope nine times before he was taken by Temba Bavuma at short midwicket to become Ngidi's second victim.

Rabada made to wait for landmark

Proteas paceman Rabada took two wickets in a devastating new-ball burst late on day one, but remains one shy of 200 Test scalps.

He bowled probing lines without reward and was economical, missing out on reaching the landmark when captain De Kock dropped Fawad in the 90s.

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