2nd Test: South Africa’s “phenomenal” pace attack gives Dale Steyn lift
Duanne Olivier grabbed four wickets as Pakistan were bowled out for 177. © AFP

Dale Steyn said on Thursday he was happy to be part of a “phenomenal” bowling attack as he and his fellow fast bowlers gave South Africa control on the first day of the second Test against Pakistan at Newlands.

South Africa’s all-time leading wicket-taker took 3/48 but was again overshadowed by Duanne Olivier  as Pakistan were bowled out for 177. Aiden Markram struck an assured 78 as South Africa reached 123/2 at the close.

Olivier followed up a match-winning performance in the first Test in Centurion by taking 4/48. Among his victims was Azhar Ali, Pakistan’s most experienced batsman, who fell to an Olivier bouncer for the third time in a row. (South Africa vs Pakistan, 2nd Test: FULL SCORECARD)

Steyn, 35, took his career total of wickets to 427 but said he was lifted by the younger bowlers in his team.

“It’s running for this bowling line-up,” he said, lauding the pace of Kagiso Rabada, the relentless skill of Vernon Philander and the pace and aggression of Olivier, who had match figures of 11 for 96 in Centurion. (ALSO READ: Duanne Olivier, Aiden Markram put South Africa in control)

“He’s hot at the moment,” Steyn said of Olivier. “You could give him a beach ball and he’d probably nick somebody off.”

Of his own contribution, Steyn said: “I’ve played a fair bit of cricket myself and I probably bring some calmness. All in all, what a phenomenal bowling line-up.”

Steyn said he believed the attitude of his fellow bowlers made him strive harder. “When I’m feeling tired I want to bowl a bit quicker because they’re doing it,” he said.

South Africa’s decision to pick an all-pace attack paid dividends with all four fast bowlers picking up wickets, with most of the Pakistan batsmen looking vulnerable against fast, short-pitched deliveries.

As at Centurion, Olivier lived up to the “enforcer” tag given him by captain Faf du Plessis, regularly landing the ball in his own half of the pitch and making it rear up towards the batsmen.

Unlike Centurion, the pitch itself was not a major factor in Pakistan’s collapse. It was hard and there was some green grass on the surface but the bounce was largely true and there was no exaggerated sideways movement.

“The ball misbehaved quite a lot in the first session,” said Shan Masood, who made 44 for Pakistan. “But it didn’t do as much in the second session. But by then we had already lost five wickets.”

Masood helped captain Sarfraz Ahmed add 60 for the sixth wicket. Sarfraz went on to make an attacking 56 off 81 balls with nine fours. Pakistan’s batting was put into perspective when Markram and Dean Elgar put on 56 for the first wicket at almost five runs an over.

Mohammad Amir put a brake on the scoring by having Elgar caught behind during a second spell in which he conceded only eight runs in five overs but Markram and Hashim Amla steadily built a second wicket stand of 67 off 109 balls.

Markram, who had not reached 20 in his previous six Test innings, struck the ball firmly in reaching a half-century off 64 balls with 11 fours. He added another three fours and a straight six off  legspinner Yasir Shah before being bowled by part-time seamer Masood at the end of the day after a 96-ball innings with a ball which nipped back and kept low.

“I don’t consider myself a bowler at all,” said Masood. “But hopefully it has opened the door for us.”