Pakistan in South Africa 2012-13 March 19, 2013

Bowlers set to enjoy Kingsmead


Durban could be forgiven for feeling anxious. It has not seen any international cricket this year and has only had a day's worth of it this summer. Moreover, it has not yet hosted Pakistan after the first Twenty20 was washed out and the subcontinental fan base has missed out on seeing a team they will be keen to cheer for.

If the weather forecast is to be believed, that will change on Thursday. Not a drop of rain is predicted as the coastal city finally decides to show off its sunnier side and temperatures are expected to soar. The late season in Durban is characterised by days like these where the air can be suffocatingly pregnant with humidity.

That also means swing and a series which has not been kind to opening batsmen will get no easier for them. Even in Bloemfontein, where South Africa's first pair put on 72 runs and Pakistan's 42, facing the quicks was tough for both sides as the bat was regularly beaten. Since then, South Africa have managed first-wicket stands of 26 and 4 and Pakistan 29 and 15 as swing and seam movement have dominated the early exchanges.

Hashim Amla, the only Durban-based player in the XI - although that could change if either David Miller or Kyle Abbott plays - does not expect Kingsmead to be too different. "We are becoming used to a difficult partnership upfront because of the two new white balls," he said of himself and Graeme Smith.

The pair struggled against Umar Gul, Mohammad Irfan and Junaid Khan with the latter two causing the problems at the Wanderers. "They bowled really good lengths and the wicket itself was a bit tacky so the ball didn't come on to the bat," Amla said. "We knew that the first 10 would be difficult so we just kept reassuring ourselves to hang in, then maybe release will come."

The breathing room came through a massive, 238-run stand between Amla and AB de Villiers. The pair concentrated on more than just survival, according to Amla. "We rotate the strike well. I always enjoy batting with AB because when he comes in you know the game is going to go forward," he said. "We complement each other and we keep each other motivated."

Amla will look to continue that way in Durban, despite the difficulties. The surface will not offer Irfan, if he is fit to play, much bounce but he may be able to get the ball to skid on awkwardly. Whoever plays of Junaid, Gul, Wahab Riaz and Sohail Tanvir can be guaranteed movement and Amla hopes South Africa will have a way of counterattacking with bat in hand as much as Dale Steyn and Lonwabo Tsotsobe can do with ball.

"As much as the Pakistan bowlers are good, they are also inexperienced," Amla said. "Irfan and Wahab haven't played many games even though they are definitely all quality. But if we get partnerships going again, we can exploit that inexperience."

Pakistan's pace pack will bank on exactly the opposite. Despite their lack of experience, they will hope to take advantage of conditions that should suit them. Kingsmead is traditionally a low-scoring ground with the average runs per over only 4.66. Totals above 250 are not all that common and it could even have something in it for the spinners.

"I am interested to see what we get down there," Amla said. "It's been a long time since I've played there and I'm not sure if it is going to swing as much. If its turns, their bowlers come into play even more." The international schedule means Amla rarely plays for his franchise the Dolphins so he has not featured at his home ground since last season.

He has only played three ODIs there overall and has two fifties to his name but no hundreds in Durban. Having notched his first century of 2013 at the Wanderers, the world's top-ranked ODI batsman is hungry for more. "I am always in the mood for a big one," Amla joked. "With it being difficult upfront, I cement in my head, the idea of how I will play. I always try to understand in which context I am batting."

If the records books are correct and Pakistan's bowlers are up for it, the context on Thursday will be a tough one again.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 21, 2013, 4:01 GMT

    Let Yunus and Malik rest.

  • Farhan on March 20, 2013, 20:48 GMT

    For God sake, Keep playing Nasir Jamshed. He has been unlucky through out the series. Twice he tried to run the ball towars the Third-man but got beaten by the bounce. Keep him playing. He has the potential to become one of the greats! On the other Hand, Asad should come in for Younis and Umer for Malik. I wonder why Pakistan always criticizes Misbah while players like Younis and Malik haven't performed for ages! We need to groom the youngsters now. These odd 35+ players won't be playing forever. For god sake, Pakistan. It doesn't matter of you risk some young players and loose the matches against SA, but it will surely do matter if you get knocked off the Champions league and The World Cup!

  • Muhammad on March 20, 2013, 19:55 GMT

    Pakistan should not make mistake of replacing Nasir Jamshed with Imran Farhat which I believe they will do. Nasir Jamshed is future of Pakistan cricket. He should get more and more practice on these type of pitches as Champions Trophy is approaching. His performance is not up to the mark throughout this tour but his previous record and style and technique is much better than Farhat. If they drop Jamshed at this point without letting him regain confidence on such pitches he will struggle to find his place in team.

    We should replace tried and tested failures like Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal with young talent like Asad Shafiq, Hammad Azam and Umar Akmal instead of axing emerging players like Jamshed.

    One thing should be made sure, whether Pakistan wins or loses this series, that this will be last tour for Misbah as a captain in ODIs. Dropping Misbah will create way for some young blood. Hafeez will be better captain as he has shown in T20s.

  • asad on March 20, 2013, 19:52 GMT

    @ICCexpert....: That's exactly what I think but if this place offers spin then Abdur Rehman should come in instead of Malik

  • vivekanand on March 20, 2013, 18:51 GMT

    @a.syed81. dale steyn is definitely a threat for pakistan. pak batsmen play him carefully and hence u can see the economical figures and less wickets. and the tsotsobes and mclarens walk away with 3 apiece. pak batsmen have to take risks against the other bowlers as they find attacking steyn more risky. i feel the pak bowlers are doing the job fairly well. their pacers r bowling good. ajmal is as always is difficult to get away with and the professor bowls his spell shrewdly. its difficult to restrict a team like south africa below 230-250. the best way to win one dayers is making your batting capable to chase a score of 280 - 300 on a consistent basis. and their lies the reason of pak failure. with the current batting lineup, they r having difficulty chasing 240-250. pak needs to address their batting form/lineup/makeup.

  • a on March 20, 2013, 14:55 GMT

    Why there is so much fear about DW Steyn, A) He was economical and only got 2 wickets in last 2 games. B) He is more of a thread in Test matches rather then in ODI C) He is not an 150 kph bowler is he?

    I think Pak has handled him okay so far in ODI isn't it?

    The reason Pak is loosing because their spinners are leaking too many runs in the middle of the game and also not taking wickets (because there is no spin at all). If they contain SA around 250 then it will be a good game. Comments?

  • Rakesh on March 20, 2013, 14:25 GMT

    Bowlers always win matches for Pakistan. The day they go for runs they loose. Their batting seldom bails them out. It would be a stern test for SA. My money on Pakistan provided their bowlers can provide a less than average target of defend one.

  • jhg on March 20, 2013, 13:08 GMT

    bring in Umar Akmal and Asad Shafiq in place of Yunis and Malik.

  • Jay on March 20, 2013, 10:50 GMT

    @shovwar, this is not the 434 game ground. That was The Wanderers where the last game was played.

  • Dummy4 on March 20, 2013, 10:48 GMT

    for this match. 1 of malik/younas has to give way to umar akmal. ( yes he is failure as others but from the tour squad he is the option)

    Plus also nasir should be rested for imran / Umar akmal ( if umar not in ). Like they did in 3rd test. fahat scored some runs.

    Irfan should be fit otherwise a big problem looms for pakistan because then they will have both tanveer & wahab in and at times both can go too expensive.

    No matter how supported this pitch can be for bowlers, its not a square turner like sub continent so wont be that much spinning.

    Junaid khan, Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Misbah, Kamran Akmal, Hafeez, 2 of Irfan/Wahab/Sohail

    And 3 off younas/malik/umar akmal/ Asad/ Imran Farhat/Nasir

    ideally Imran Farhat-Umar Akmal & younas/Asad.

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