Opener Ahmed Shehzad brightened his chances for a Test place with a solid half-century as Pakistan A batsmen matched South Africans in the tour game at Sharjah on Wednesday.
The 21-year-old, vying for a place in the first of two Tests starting in Abu Dhabi from Monday, hit 66 in a Pakistan A score of 230 for four in reply to South Africa’s 354 for eight declared on the second day of the three-day match at Sharjah stadium.
Pakistan needs to select three players from this tour match to add to the 12-man squad announced for the two-Test series.
The second Test starts in Dubai from October 23.
But Shehzad’s rival for the opening slot, Shan Masood, also scored an attractive 50 in a stand of 106 for the first wicket before both retired to allow others a chance to gain practice.
Shehzad has played 27 One-Day Internationals (ODI) and 15 Twenty20s for Pakistan since 2009 and is tipped to make his Test debut in Abu Dhabi.
South Africa‘s four-pronged pace attack led by world’s best Test bowler Dale Steyn toiled hard in the heat. Of the pacemen only Morne Morkel managed a single wicket.
Steyn and fellow new ball partner Vernon Philander bowled 26 overs between them but were unable to separate the Pakistan ‘A’ openers.
Pakistan’s one drop batsman Azhar Ali also notched a sedate 54 while Asad Shafiq, also fighting to keep his Test place, was unbeaten on 32 at stumps.
South African spinners Robin Peterson (one for 42) and Imran Tahir bowled tight but failed to extract much spin out of the pitch.
The two-Test series is expected to be dominated by spinners, with Pakistan likely to enter the first Test with off-spinner Saeed Ajmal and two left-armers in Abdur Rehman and Zulfiqar Babar.
South Africa 332-5 (Jacques Kallis 70, AB de Villiers 58, Sohaib Maqsood 1 for 17) lead Pakistan A 230 for 4 (Ahmed Shahzad 66, Azhar Ali 54, Shan Masood 50) by 102 runs.