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Arthur criticises Newlands pitch as Proteas build commanding lead

By Opta
Faf du Plessis shored up South Africa

Cape Town, January 5: Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur questioned the quality of the Newlands wicket despite Faf du Plessis' century putting South Africa in a dominant position in the second Test.

The Proteas opened up a 205-run lead in Cape Town as Du Plessis' fine 103 helped them reach stumps on 382-6, already dwarfing Pakistan's meagre first innings of 177.

Batting conditions were not easy for the home side, though, with Du Plessis taking two deliveries on the glove and one on the helmet due to uneven bounce.

And Arthur says such unpredictability so early in a Test suggests the surface is not fit to host an encounter that could decide the three-match series – South Africa having won the opener at Centurion.

"I'm a little bit disappointed, to be honest," he told reporters.

"I haven't been back to South Africa in a cricketing capacity since 2010 and the standard of the wickets - the wicket we had at Centurion and the wicket here - I think haven't been good enough for Test cricket.

"With South Africa, particularly when you play a subcontinent team, you're always going to ask for bounce and pace. I think both wickets have been very weighted in favour of the bowlers, and obviously because it is home ground advantage. We get the ball to turn a little bit in the United Arab Emirates.

"I just think it is inconsistent. I think there were seven stoppages today for balls that hit cracks and the physio came running out and we're talking about day two.

"I understand that if it is happening on days four and five because that's what happens in Test cricket; wickets deteriorate significantly and so they should, but it shouldn't make your first innings a lottery and I think that batting here in the first innings is extremely tough.

"I still believe in a good contest in Test cricket but, again, we aren't at home so we don't have a say. I do think the wickets have got significantly worse since I coached in 2010."

It was not an opinion shared by Temba Bavuma, though, the South African batsman having spent 235 minutes at the crease on Friday for his 75.

"Yeah, it was challenging and a tricky wicket," said in his media conference. "It's challenging but just not impossible.

"It's one wicket as a batter that you have got to try and embrace, you have got to make peace with the fact that you're going to take a couple of balls on the body. But at the end if you're able to come through, it'll be very satisfactory.

"I wouldn't call it dangerous at all. Faf and I are still living. It wasn't impossible to bat on. You have to apply yourself."

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    Story first published: Saturday, January 5, 2019, 1:00 [IST]
    Other articles published on Jan 5, 2019
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