Pakistan v South Africa, 2nd Test, Abu Dhabi November 19, 2010

South Africa aim for clean sweep


Match Facts

November 20, Dubai
Start time 10:00 (6:00 GMT)

The Big Picture

Since Pakistan cricket was plunged into scandal during the Lord's Test three months ago, it seems not a week has gone by without some new twist to the controversy. Yet after their Younis Khan-inspired draw in the first Test at Dubai the Pakistan camp has been remarkably quiet. The clamour surrounding Zulqarnain Haider's shock departure from the side has died down - for now at least - and, against the odds, Pakistan will go into the second Test under Misbah-ul-Haq's leadership believing they have the potential to upset the South Africans and win their first Test series since 2006.

At 36, Misbah's tenure is surely not a long-term option but he showed the value of experience and a calm head in the course of his defiant 186-run stand with Younis and has at least done enough to justify his selection to the team. However, while Pakistan's batting resilience was admirable their bowling - already dented by the loss of Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir - has been further hit by Wahab Riaz's injury. Much will depend on the spinners, Abdur Rehman and Saeed Ajmal, who struggled for incisiveness in the first Test but were not helped by the batting-friendly conditions.

South Africa's spinners were also not as effective as hoped after both teams went into the match with two slow bowlers. With conditions likely to be similar in Abu Dhabi - another venue hosting a Test for the first time - it will take something special from either team to force a result in the game, and South Africa will look to their new-ball pair of Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn to give them that spark. Morkel's five-wicket haul set up South Africa's first-innings lead at Dubai, and while Steyn is not quite back to his best after his return from injury he could have given his team the crucial breakthrough had Mark Boucher held a chance off Younis's bat early on the fifth morning.

With wins in the one-day and Twenty20 series, Graeme Smith and his men have made no secret of their intention to wrap up a clean sweep with victory in the Tests too. As the No. 2 Test side in world cricket, there's every reason to back South Africa to do just that but, as always, Pakistan are impossible to predict and simply refuse to be written off.

Form guide

(most recent first)

South Africa: DWDWL
Pakistan: DLWLL

Watch out for...

He may not be the most magnetic player in the side - he's probably the least - but Azhar Ali has brought an ugly toughness to Pakistan's batting. Since coming into the side earlier this year against Australia he has played an important role in two Pakistan victories - scoring a crucial second-innings half-century in the nervy runchase to beat Australia at Headingley and setting up Pakistan's first-innings with an unbeaten 92 in the Oval win over England - and survived 322 deliveries in the first Test of this series to hold off South Africa. In a line-up partial to collapse his flinty presence has become crucial.

Pinging the ball down from the skies, Morne Morkel generated enough bounce to rough up Pakistan's lower order and help them lose their last eight wickets for 72 in the first innings at Dubai. In combination with Dale Steyn he has become a potent force with the new ball in the last year, taking 42 wickets at 24.07 from 10 Tests. South Africa's spinners are not good enough to lead the attack and with Steyn still feeling his way back after injury the responsibility rests with Morkel to try and force a South Africa win.

Team news

As they look to wrap up the series, there's no reason for South Africa to tinker too much with their line-up.

South Africa (possible): 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Alviro Petersen, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 Hashim Amla, 5 AB de Villiers, 6 Ashwell Prince, 7 Mark Boucher (wk), 8 Johan Botha, 9 Paul Harris, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Morne Morkel

After his rash shot in the first innings at Dubai, Pakistan may well drop batsman Umar Akmal and give a Test debut to Asad Shafiq. Also expected to make his belated debut is paceman Tanvir Ahmed, in place of the injured Riaz. The other, perhaps less likely, option would be to go with a five-man bowling attack in an effort to secure 20 wickets on a flat pitch.

Pakistan (possible): 1 Taufeeq Umar, 2 Mohammad Hafeez, 3 Younis Khan, 4 Azhar Ali, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Asad Shafiq, 7 Adnan Akmal (wk), 8 Abdur Rehman, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Tanvir Ahmed, 11 Saeed Ajmal

Pitch and conditions

By the end of the first Test in Dubai the lifeless pitch befitted the desert setting perfectly. Conditions will be no less hostile for fast bowlers in Abu Dhabi. This will be the first Test to be played at the ground but it hosted this year's English domestic season opener, with Durham thrashing MCC by 311 runs. Scott Borthwick's raw legspin picked up eight wickets in that game which suggests there will be plenty of work for the slow bowlers.

Stats and trivia

  • Tanvir Ahmed was the leading wicket-taker in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy last season, picking up 85 scalps to bowl Karachi Blues to the title.

  • Mohammad Sami, Tanvir's rival for the second seamer's spot, doesn't have the greatest record against South Africa. He's played five Tests against them, between December 2002 and January 2007, and taken nine wickets at an average of 61.11.

  • The last year hasn't been Paul Harris's best in Test cricket. In nine matches in the last 12 months, he's managed just 23 wickets at the bloated average of 52.30. He seems to enjoy playing against Pakistan, however, and in six Tests against them he's helped himself to 20 wickets at just 24.35.

  • The Sheik Zayed Stadium has never hosted a Test before, but five first-class games have been played at the ground. Eoin Morgan hit 209 not out here for Ireland in 2006-07 - still his highest first-class score - and Bermuda seamer Kevin Hurdle took what remains the only 10-wicket haul of his first-class career in a match against UAE in 2007-08 here.


    "Hopefully there will be more life in the pitch in Abu Dhabi."
    Graeme Smith speaks on behalf of bowlers and cricket lovers around the world.

    We weren't playing much Test cricket, so playing the world's second-ranked team in Tests was a challenge and after drawing the first Test we now have a belief that we can win."
    A bullish Misbah-ul-Haq is ready to go one better after fighting to a draw in the first Test.

    Liam Brickhill and Sahil Dutta are assistant editors at ESPNcricinfo

  • Comments have now been closed for this article

    • Ammar Hasan on November 20, 2010, 5:23 GMT

      I think Asad Shafique, Muhammad Sami and Tanvir Ahmed should play. Umar Gul and Umar Akmal should be rested.

    • Jawwad on November 20, 2010, 5:22 GMT

      Don't ignore the fact every top team is gearing for the World Cup by playing a series with Pakistan. It is not a mere coincidence that Eng, Aus and SA have recently played Pak as they know very well the one team that will test their limits and push them to oblivion is Pak nevertheless second string and controversial laden. And that's a credit to their instinct.

    • Dummy4 on November 20, 2010, 5:07 GMT

      sohaib25 and company, you are not paying attention, a clean sweep means a series win in the T20S ODi'S and TESTS, A whitewash is winning every single game, eg what south africa did to the west indies in the T20S AND ODIS, in the tests we won 2 out of 3 , so we clean sweeped the tour but did not whitewash the tests as one was drawn.

    • Dummy4 on November 20, 2010, 4:29 GMT

      This is mindboggling for me. Adnan's batting is crap, granted his keeping is better than others.But you simply cannot have both akmals in the team.Now as far as teh keeper crisis goes, HERES A SUGGESSION!!! MAKE ASIF SHAFIQUE THE KEEPER.He's a keeper in domestic cricket and has a batting avg. off 40!! He probably has the best wicket-keeper batssmen in our domestic circuit and yet our board persists on trying the akmals!!even when kamran got injured, they gave Umar the gloves,i was amazed at that decision since asad was in the team and he is a keeper batsmen!The Akmals are ruining this team with their strong backing in the board(and i am lahori incase anyone will say something silly).

    • Dummy4 on November 20, 2010, 4:28 GMT

      the onlt thing i am worried off that collin ingram lonwabo jp duminy and gibbs are not playing.

      specially lnowabo and duminy who crack the pkaistan spearhead bowler shaoib akhat in last odi he didint bowl 10 overs otherwise he would have borken the record for max runs in 10 over he would have conceded anywheree about 110 runs as he was going at 11 runs per over.

      but even without 4 top players south africa will easily beat pakistan but the fact that pitches are dead otherwise the last time pakistan visit south africa they lost odi series 4-1 and test series as well and in that they have got their mohd asif and kamran all those specially asif he was banged in the odis by ab de villiers.

      never the less if pitch is sporting the game will be finished inside 3 days.

      because if you give RSA a good wicket they rip apart the batting line ups , they have done the same to indian 2 time as well first in ahembdabad second in nagpur.

    • rao on November 20, 2010, 0:22 GMT

      @true_cricket_fan ON THIS EARTH 2nd string team means when u r playing without some of ur vital players, in other words when a team is missing some players who are automatic choice for a game.pakistan has only 5 or 6 players who can b automatic choice for a test match, 3 of them u mentioned and 1 (M yousuf) is dont u think its a 2nd string team? and why is pakistan better off without amir , asif n salman? wat offence u talking about? is anything proven yet? if a corrupt guy sitting infront of camera n counting money n talking about a 3rd person is a solid proof for u, m happy u r not a judge in any court.we will wait for the final decision and if they r guilty we'll b happy to forget them forever.but until then they r as innocent as u n me and they r a part of pakistan team doesnt matter if ICC is too hasty to impose bans.

    • Shahab on November 19, 2010, 22:52 GMT

      Hi, I dont think PAK will be able to win this one. SA are mentally too strong for them. I think Asad Shafiq should be given a chance, mind you his technique against off spinners in not good. Umar on the other hand uses his feet very well. But shafiq should be given his debut match. PAK wil be lucky to survive upto the last session of day 5, if they do, waqar's team is on right track.

    • Dummy4 on November 19, 2010, 22:01 GMT

      tanvir ahmed ...i think sami sshud b given proper chances to perform ..hez been given chances in bits and pieces ...gud decision to rest umar akmal ...but if sami is dropped then the remaing bowling combination cant win test match or even bowl the opposition out once

    • Dummy4 on November 19, 2010, 20:35 GMT

      PAKISTAN PLZ WIN DIS ONE......i think da u.akmal shud not be rested caz he is in gud fom n he prformed in da odi(i knew he ws savvd many tymes)

    • Nikhil on November 19, 2010, 20:23 GMT

      I'm sick of the people who are suggesting that Pakistan are playing their "2nd string" team. WHAT ON EARTH DO THEY MEAN BY THAT? Asif, Amir and Butt are suspended for a serious offence. I think Pakistan team is better with leaving them out. WITHOUT these playes, they are playing their full-strength team.

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