Pakistan v South Africa, 2nd Test, Dubai

South Africa's resilience put to test

The Preview by Kanishkaa Balachandran

October 22, 2013

Comments: 51 | Text size: A | A

Match facts

October 23-27, 2013
Start time 1000 local (0600 GMT)

Dean Elgar piled up the runs as he went to a double hundred, South Africa A v Australia A, 1st unofficial Test, Pretoria, July 26, 2013
Dean Elgar is likely to replace the absent Hashim Amla © Getty Images

Big Picture

It was expected that South Africa wouldn't have it easy going into the first Test. The No. 1 ranking comes with high expectations to adjust quickly to conditions, no matter what they are. However, South Africa succumbing with more than a day to spare in Abu Dhabi was a surprise.

The visitors had a warm-up game before the Test but were still undercooked, after months of inactivity as a Test unit. The five-day gap between Tests might still not be enough to figure out how to square the series, but South Africa have shown in the past that they have the resilience to bounce back in adversity.

Pakistan's clinical performance was not that much of a surprise either. They are a transformed team in the UAE, when compared to how they perform on away tours. Ask England. Pakistan trounced the former No.1 side 3-0 in early 2012 and their most recent win in Abu Dhabi was their fourth consecutive victory against a top-ranked team in the UAE.

The result was received with much fanfare largely because of the gloom that followed that embarrassing defeat in Harare a month ago. The top order had looked wobbly, the middle order depended far too much on Misbah-ul-Haq and there were doubts over whether Pakistan had not only the hunger but the resources to succeed in Tests. That they turned it around so quickly has lifted the mood among their fans.

South Africa will not be able to field their best XI, with their best batsman and only centurion from Abu Dhabi, Hashim Amla, flying home for the birth of his child. Dale Steyn has fitness concerns too, and though he wasn't at his best in Abu Dhabi, his participation remains critical. Spin remains their biggest chink: Robin Peterson or JP Duminy cannot run through sides like Saeed Ajmal can. South Africa's seamers identified the correct lengths - a fuller one - to bowl on these pitches rather late in the first Test, when they had all of 40 to defend. They need to apply that more consistently to test Pakistan.

Should South Africa lose, they will still retain their No.1 ranking but it will narrow the gap between them and England. Pakistan will finish the series at No. 4 irrespective of what happens in Dubai. A draw is enough to seal the series, 1-1 will also improve their ranking, but 2-0 will extinguish the demons of Zimbabwe.

In the spotlight

Teams tend to retain a winning combination, but Azhar Ali is under pressure to keep his spot. He has looked a shadow of the batsman who dominated England last year and his troubles began in South Africa earlier this year. Azhar had scores of 11 and 3 in Abu Dhabi and his struggle has increased pressure on the senior players below him in the line-up. Pakistan might want to sandwich him between Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan or swap him with Asad Shafiq at No.6.

The stripped-down DRS without Hot Spot in the first Test did not strengthen the case for technology. When decisions were referred, play was held up for longer than usual, because the third umpire had to work with limited resources. Sometimes there was a sound as the ball passed the bat, but with no obvious deviation to back it up, it was a conundrum for the third umpire. Umpires will continue to be under pressure in these conditions and with no Hot Spot for the Ashes, it could be more of the same in the coming months.

Team news

With Amla absent, South Africa are likely to play Dean Elgar. Another option is to bring in the wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile and play AB de Villiers as a specialist batsman. The team manager Mohammed Moosajee said that Steyn's MRI didn't reveal a hamstring pull and so they are treating it as a tightness. Steyn will undergo a fitness test on the morning of the match, and if he misses out, Rory Kleinveldt may play. Smith also hinted at playing the legspinner Imran Tahir.

South Africa: 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Alviro Petersen, 3 Dean Elgar, 4 Jacques Kallis, 5 AB de Villiers (wk), 6 JP Duminy, 7 Faf du Plessis, 8 Robin Peterson/Imran Tahir, 9 Vernon Philander, 10 Dale Steyn/Rory Kleinveldt, 11 Morne Morkel

Pakistan were non committal on possible changes. With the pitch expected to turn more, there was talk of bringing in Abdur Rehman as the third spinner, at the expense of a batsman.

Pakistan: 1 Shan Masood, 2 Khurram Manzoor, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Asad Shafiq, 7 Adnan Akmal (wk), 8 Saeed Ajmal, 9 Zulfiqar Babar, 10 Junaid Khan, 11 Mohammad Irfan

Pitch and conditions

After the first Test, Misbah had called for another "result pitch" in Dubai. The word is that it is expected to assist the spinners even more, but Misbah described it as a "typical Dubai wicket which we've played on before."

Stats and trivia

  • Misbah has 11 Test wins as captain, currently level with Inzamam-ul-Haq. If Pakistan win, he will equal Wasim Akram who has 12 wins. Imran Khan and Javed Miandad top the list with 14 wins as captain.
  • South Africa last lost a Test series in early 2009, against Australia.


"We've got enough experience around the group and good reference points to fall back on. Pakistan have played well in the UAE and we respect that. They are creating a little fortress here. Hopefully we can break through that."
Graeme Smith says his team will draw from previous experiences in the UAE

"We don't want to be complacent and think the top bowler and batsman are not playing."
Misbah-ul-Haq says Pakistan's preparation will not change because Amla is out and Steyn is in doubt

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 7:31 GMT)

Azhar must have to change his approach as his causal style is not only costing the team but also costing him the place in the playing XI...

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 5:42 GMT)

sa has a good chance for early wickets..lets see

Posted by Greatest_Game on (October 23, 2013, 5:33 GMT)

@ Sunair makes the tired old claim that "South Africans cannot play spin we all have seen in Abu Dhabi. For Dubai test Pakistan should play with three seamers, because Dubai wicket helps seamers alot, which he have against England.'

Sunair - sis you follow the match?? I don't think so. 55% of SA wickets fell to spin. 40% fell to pace. In SA's 1st innings the top 4 SA batsmen fell to pace, AB was run out by the 3rd umpire, and the tail fell to spin.

In SA's second innings 2 of the top 5 fell to spni, & 3 fell to pace. In Pakistan's first innings, 2 fell to spin & 3 fell to pace - exactly the same result. The SA tail fell to spin, the Pak tail fell to pace.

If, as you claim, SA cannot play spin, then Pak cannot play pace.

Posted by ABRAR-JANJUA on (October 23, 2013, 5:29 GMT)

@ badmaash Good Joke Dear, proper technique and temperament are way behind of Fawad Alam, in fact his batting Technique and footwork is horrible and against good quality bowling attack he can't survive.

Posted by Mel-waas on (October 23, 2013, 4:51 GMT)

Wrong South Africa beat Australia in 2009 2-1.

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 4:25 GMT)

Go ahead Africa hope they wins it.Though um not a big fan of them but still i like S.Africa.

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 4:03 GMT)

Khurram Manzoor I would give a chance because while he has brain freeze moments, his technique is decent and his aggression is necessary to put pressure on opposition.

Shan masood is mediocre and edges and misses more than he finds the middle of the bat and I expect him to be exposed sooner rather than later.

Azhar Ali, whether in form or not, is a negative choice for no.3. We need a more balanced batsman similar to Umar Akmal, Younis Khan , Mohamad Yousuf or Fawad Alam in this spot.

Azhar Ali's extremely slow batting, slower than Misbah by far, just puts the team in stalemate and unlike Misbah, even when he tries to score he ends up just frustrating himself.

Umar Amin is not the answer, his technique is shoddyand while he has seemed OK in recent times he is not one for the future

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 4:02 GMT)

Let Ajmal show whatever caliber he has ,if ajmal did not claim 10 -15 wkts in this test ,he should be kicked out of team ,he is there to take wkts and not a container.

Posted by badmaash on (October 23, 2013, 3:29 GMT)

Fawad Alam is the man to replace Misbah & Younis. In the upcoming crop of players he is only one with proper technique and the temperament to play the long innings that win tests.

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 2:42 GMT)

Steyn injury drama is all about adding imran tahir into the team and want to get rid of steyn as the conditions require more spinning options besides duminy and robin peterson

Posted by mensan on (October 23, 2013, 2:31 GMT)

I hope Dubai wicket takes turn unlike a batting paradise in Abu Dhabi. Pakistan should plan to play at least 120 overs in 1st innings and 100 in 2nd. Only then thet can expect to win/draw the test.

Posted by Kashif-Rafiq on (October 23, 2013, 2:29 GMT)

IMO, azhar ali should be replaced by umar amin and rest of the team combination is perfect. no need to bring in another spinner at a cost of a batsman.

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 1:43 GMT)

@Shaukat Ali Talpur, How can you be so sure brother? Give them a chance, than say whatever you want. Last time when Khurram played was in the Australian tour, where he made a fighting 77 and was dropped soon after for some reason. By the way everyone on that tour failed except for him and Umar Akmal. So please keep your negative thoughts out. Quite frankly, the way our openers have performed recently, I would take anything whether it comes on flat tracks or overseas. Mind you these young openers were facing the worlds best bowlers, and it is the same pitch where Pakistan bowled out the most promising batsman twice. So things aren't as simple as they seem, give credit where it is due. Good luck Pakistan!

Posted by Ibn-e-Saeed on (October 23, 2013, 0:57 GMT)

@Shaukat Ali Talpur. You are right. But you know they have not been playing in their own backyard, so when they go to other countries ,they are low on self confidence. When they get runs in sub-continent, they gain confidence. How Hashim Amla got runs when everyone around him was getting out? Because he is intelligent and had the confidence that: "yes, i can play on this surface".

Posted by welovepakistan on (October 23, 2013, 0:47 GMT)

espncricinfo are you ready for another huge huge upset??????

Posted by   on (October 23, 2013, 0:29 GMT)

The frustrations of SA, if they lose 2-0 to Pak, will be taken out on India, when the latter walk into South Africa's own dens. Will be a good trail by fire for the India team. Irrespective of the results, it will be a good testing & training ground for the 'new generation' of Indian cricketers.

That way, this short series in Abu Dhabi turned out to be good for both the neighbors: Pakistan and India. In two different ways.

Posted by S.Alis on (October 23, 2013, 0:16 GMT)

"Pakistan's clinical performance was not that much of a surprise either. Ask England."

Then why ESPNCricinfo had "big upset" headline. It sounded like Pakistan did something impossible in first test.

Posted by Fijicricket on (October 22, 2013, 23:54 GMT)

A huge margin win coming up for Sth Africa- Whe the going gets tough, the tough gets going! Not even the doctored pitch will save Pakistan

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 22:31 GMT)

I think pakistan needs an allrounder, more like razzak in the squad who is a good batsmen and a good bowler. Pakistans bowling looks absolutely lethal but the batting well its too inconsistent, a good allrounder can balance the squad up perfectly

Posted by zarasochozarasamjho on (October 22, 2013, 21:47 GMT)

Captains records are judged not on wins but win/loss ratio (subject to minimum number of matches). Otherwise a captain has simply to play more matches in order to win more. Losses must be included in the formula.

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 20:27 GMT)

It iz my PRIDICTION that shan and khuram manzoor will not last longer as they are playing on dead pitches they wont b able to play other than pak india and srilanka Tecnically they are not sound

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 20:11 GMT)

To the supporters of Ahmed Shehzad, a T20 player, a very stupid idea to bring him in to Tests till he has proven himself in the one dayers. Playing with 4 bowlers was risky in the first rest, had one of them broken down, it would have been disastrous . Azhar Ali is not a flat track bully, his scores in England prove that, he needs to be persisted with as he has the temperament which is everything in Tests. Play with 3 spinners and 2 fast bowlers, let Younis khan keep wickets and bring in Umar Amin to strengthen the batting.

Posted by Iddy on (October 22, 2013, 20:02 GMT)

If Umar Akmal was in the squad then he is a must in the starting 11 in all formats of the game. He could have played in place of Azhar Ali. However for this test in my opinion Umar Amin should play in place of Azhar Ali. No other changes required as Ajmal and Barbar are a perfect combination. Also due to Pakistan's inconsistent batting I would not want to put Rehman in for a batsman. Irfan and Junaid are both quality that could give early wickets at the top with the new ball and then let Ajmal and Barbar loose. Good luck Pakistan and play positive cricket.

Posted by PAK_CricFan on (October 22, 2013, 19:45 GMT)

Pakistan should go unchanged as they need to give Azhar another chance as he has done good in past for the team. Secondly in UAE pitches are not flat (flat pitches are those where swing/seam & turn is not on the show through pitch) they are slow turning tracks with HOT HUMID conditions where Pakistan has always excelled better than any team in world also Bangladesh got the same style of pitches. Another important point about Dubai pitch is that its the most fast turning track of the UAE so it ll assit spinners much better and here life will be more difficult against spinners. Good luck for the both teams and i pray that Pakistan will win InshaAllah o Amen.

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 19:35 GMT)

Ahmed Shahzad in one down could be helpfull for Pakistan.if they dont bring Shahzad in then they should sent Younis at no 3 and give azhar to no 4 because he is not in good touch.Rather then tha first half an hour in dubai will be very crucial becase new ball will do much swing for bowlers if any team utilized first hour wisely then game will start in his pocket.But hope Pakistan will wrap up Africa

Posted by PAKisTANeee786 on (October 22, 2013, 19:12 GMT)

I personally think, we should stick with our current Test team, because they know as a group how to dismantle number one opposition from previous experiences. Same way SA and England have kept their sides pretty much the same over the years. Only changes can be in the batting order. Azhar Ali should come at no.4 while promoting YK at no.3. Shafiq and Misbah should switch places, as i think Misbah should be utilized earlier rather than later. Shaifq, Akmal, and one of the bowlers can direct the innings towards the end to a respectable total to challenge the Saffans, assuming we bat first. Hoping for a good contest! Good luck Pakistan.

Posted by ShariqVohra on (October 22, 2013, 19:04 GMT)

I would bring in Ahmad Shahzad in for Azhar Ali, as Azhar is not in his best form in these couple of months But brining in Abdur Rehman for the cost of a batsmen may not be a GREAT idea

Posted by ShariqVohra on (October 22, 2013, 19:02 GMT)

I would bring in Ahmad Shahzad in for Azhar Ali, as Azhar is not in his best form in these couple of months But brining in Abdur Rehman for the cost of a batsmen may not be a GREAT idea

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 18:56 GMT)

South Africa will struggle in the second test. They are terrible under pressure and only play well when they are on top. They have no bounce back ability, they have no backbone and they cannot reply to Pakistan's domination.

Posted by t20cric on (October 22, 2013, 18:45 GMT)

With Hashim Amla out Pakistan are favourites to win this match. They should be playing for the win in this match and not think like the coach who is ok with even a draw. Pakistan have a problem in the no. 3 spot. The no.3 is supposed to be the best batsman in the team and that's not Azhar. I hope Azhar improves in this upcoming test match. There is really no one to replace Azhar if he fails again; Umar Amin doesn't look like a good batsman, Haris Sohail and Fawad Alam and Umar Akmal are having trouble being picked in the test side, Ahmed Shehzad is an opener. I think Pakistan should keep an unchanged team and work hard to win this test. For Pakistan to win they really need another good opening stand and then Azhar (hopefully), Younis, Misbah, Asad and Adnan can add atleast 250+ runs combined to get a solid score. Good luck Pakistan and go for the win.

Posted by Stark62 on (October 22, 2013, 18:42 GMT)

I would bring in Shezhad for Azhar because Azhar has proven, that he is nothing special and temperament isn't always a key factor in performance at Test level.

Also, I don't think Shan will be as successful as he was in the first innings of the 1st Test because he looks very, very shaky outside the offstump and was very fortunate, to have been dropped by Kallis in the first innings or else, he would have been a failure in the previous game.

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 18:08 GMT)

Pakistan should go for the win..With negativity in mind they won't be able to play enterprising cricket.. I hope Azhar is demoted to no.4 instead of being dropped ! For SA Imran is a must..Playing with a half-spinner like Robbie in U.A.E is a blunder..

Posted by jb633 on (October 22, 2013, 17:44 GMT)

Dean Elgar will be mincemeat for Ajmal, Graeme Swann had him for breakfast and Ajmal is a better spinner than Swanny. I said this when we toured the UAE and SL that picking a classical batsmen will always fail against quality spin bowling. Pick a guy who can play spin, his averages against the moving ball are irrelevant so long as he can play spin. I hope for the sake of Pakistan that they don't go in with 5 bowlers because their batting is always vulnerable and they need to strengthen that area as much as possible. I personally rate Azar Ali and would be disappointed if he was dropped. I think they need to show some faith in players like him and Shafiq and over time that faith will be repaid. The toss in this game will be crucial if South Africa can put up 350 or more I could see Pak crumbling under pressure. If Pak bat first and get anything over 300 it will be very difficult for SA to come back. Hoping for a good test and huge turning wickets.

Posted by 2nd_Slip on (October 22, 2013, 17:43 GMT)

The stage is set for Faf to prove his test credentials, he cannot afford to stay in the side just because of his heroics against Aus last year. On the other hand its a chance for Dean Elgar to prove that he is a better batsmen than Faf (which, in my opinion, is the case). Imran Tahir must definitely replace Robbie P if we are to win this test match.

Posted by Sunair on (October 22, 2013, 17:40 GMT)

South Africans cannot play spin we all have seen in Abu Dhabi. For Dubai test Pakistan should play with three seamers, because Dubai wicket helps seamers alot, which he have against England.

Posted by SaadRocx on (October 22, 2013, 17:33 GMT)

I hope Dubai pitch isn't a road like it was in Abu Dhabhi...I Would take a square turner anyday over a flat road.

Posted by Desihungama on (October 22, 2013, 17:26 GMT)

This may be the perfect time to bring Hafeez in at No. 6 in place of Shafique giving the team ample spin options and keeping all fast bowlers. Please note Dubai wicket is tailor made for Hafeez' style bowling. I will only Include Hafeez just for this Test and in future have him compete for No. 6 spot with Shafique and Umar Amin.

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 17:26 GMT)

Azhar Ali fans wait a second guyz before supporting Ali and bashing Asad let me tell you he already played 30 test matches with an average of just 39 is that good enough for a player who is a no.3 batsmen. He can only score runs on flat tracks. Ahmed Shehzad should replace him. . .

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 17:02 GMT)

Did I just read someone saying drop Irfan and bring Abdur Rahman? Are you nuts?? What logic is that, the most threatening pacer in last test match and you asking to drop him?? I will bring Abdur Rahman, would not drop a batsman either, we need extra batter if anything. SA will come hard at you and you need everyone who can bat. I will drop Babar for this test, even thou he was pretty good but Rahman is better and he can bat as well. Azhar Ali, definitely drop and bring Umar Amin. They are suggesting Amin would be the future captain so put him in and let him take responsibility. See what he got..

Posted by ZCFOutkast on (October 22, 2013, 16:55 GMT)

I say Pakistan need to pick Rehman and drop a batsman. The Proteas will be chasing the game to square the series. They have such weak minds and if they lose they will in my book be second favourites against India's rising stars. Unless Dean Elgar is replacing one of the openers it's a waste to include him as he can potentially fail alongside the rest of the middle order. Why not promote everyone a place? Surely Tsotsobe with the gloves and his runs lower down the order will add more value!

Posted by SohailMirza on (October 22, 2013, 16:49 GMT)

Asad Shafiq was about to drop from team but with one 50 he has cemented his place. On the other side Azhar Ali who has proved many times (against ENG, SRI, AUS) with only 4 bad innigins is about to drop and the worst thing is every 2nd so called expert asking him to drop.. This is unfortunate for Pakistan. Umar Akmal is best example a really fine player and much better than Asad is not in the team.

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 16:45 GMT)

Azhar dessrves more chances as he is more consitant batsman in pakistan test cricket if replacement required than Umar amin will be best choice asa left hander bating option in middle which can disturb the bowling while imran and peterson has to bowl at him and he has good solid technique ,in addition he can bowl some medium pace also..

Posted by mensan on (October 22, 2013, 16:27 GMT)

Pakistan should play with 3 spinners. Bring Abdur Rehman in place of Irfan. Replace Azhar Ali with Umar Amin (will also play 2nd seamer role).

Posted by hamza893 on (October 22, 2013, 15:57 GMT)

Abdul Rehman inclusion will put psycological pressure on SA.More .more and more spin is waiting for them on a pitch that is very supportive for them. Azhar Ali is under-performing these days ,he need some break.If he again makes 30 odd runs in two innings that must be not useful for Pakistan ,rather Abdul Rehman inclusion will not only strenghten their attack but also put SA on back door.Except AB no other batsmen seems comfortable against Paki spinner. I see this test match ending in 11 sessions (max).Good Luck TEAM PAKISTAN ,make us proud.

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 15:48 GMT)

wow Kanishka , suddenly a change in point of view, like unpredictable Pakistan cricket team! lol Pakistani team & u both r amazing , never know what is coming next.

best of luck to Pakistan , they are playing wonderful cricket , amazing & if they bat well then their r some chances to win 2nd test also & hi & welcome to Dubai to South African players :)

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 15:45 GMT)

It would be stupid to drop Azhar Ali. Boost his confidence not shatter it by dropping him. He has proven himself, now time for the team to carry him and give him an extended run.

Posted by shakeel.asghar on (October 22, 2013, 15:41 GMT)

Winner is winner. That's it.

Posted by Deepakrio278 on (October 22, 2013, 15:23 GMT)

SA have got so used to not playing spinners that they hesitate or maybe even afraid about the thought of using a spinner like Tahir.New Zealand have shown positive signs in choosing the young Sodhi and are testing him out in Bangladesh. And here we have the Proteas still not making a decision on Tahir.And what is it that i hear about Rory. I mean the thought that someone like Rory,who is not a bad bowler can replace the gap left by Steyn is just silly.If Steyn cant do any good,what good is Rory in these conditions.I say give Immy a go.He was great in the ODIs he played in the ICC world cup 2011.Just give him plans and he will do it.I would give Elgar and Immy a chance and maybe even drop Faf for Thami or Robin Peterson.I wish them all the best for the second test. Crucial one,considering they have not lost a series away in 7 years. Go well Proteas.

Posted by am5786 on (October 22, 2013, 15:18 GMT)

ICC should keep hot spot in this game and upcoming games, if you compare few cases when hot spot was not helpful with a lot of cases when it was really helpful for third umpires. I feel we should carry on and keep using it.

Posted by S.Kamran.Ali on (October 22, 2013, 15:12 GMT)

Hope Pak team will play to the best of their abilities and with positive frame of mind for winning the second test and series with 2-0 margin.

Posted by   on (October 22, 2013, 15:11 GMT)

No way . a 3rd spinner at expense of a batsman? have they forgot 2nd innings in 1st test? They can use azhar ali as 3rd spinner if required. 3 spinners is only workable if it is a pure turning pitch. but if it is just same then they need 2 fast bowlers.

Azhars form is a problem. i think he needs some break. can use 3rd opener ahmed shehzad at no 3 position with the new ball doing some tricks.

Paksitan need to be on top of their game to win this. it will not be easy task.

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