Pakistan in South Africa 2012-13

SA bowlers pose tough challenge to Pakistan

Firdose Moonda

January 29, 2013

Comments: 77 | Text size: A | A

Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel watch their team-mates train, Adelaide, November 19, 2012
Pakistan will be up against the strongest pace attack in the world © Getty Images
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Series/Tournaments: Pakistan tour of South Africa

To beat South Africa, opposition teams need to hone in on one thing: the world No.1 side's bowlers.

"The big battle between any team coming up against the current South African one will be between their batsmen against the South African bowlers," Vincent Barnes, manager of the high performance centre, who was in charge of the South African Invitation side that played against the touring Pakistanis, told ESPNCricinfo. "If you can tame the bowlers, you can get close but if you can't, you will get a hiding."

On the evidence of the tour match, which few read into, Pakistan's batsmen have some work to do. Nasir Jamshed and Mohammad Hafeez did well in both innings but of the middle order only Misbah-ul-Haq scored a half-century.

"It looked like they were just trying to occupy the crease and then some of them got good balls and got out," Barnes said. "We can't judge too much on that. Guys like Azhar Ali and Younis Khan have scored big runs in the past. Jamshed looks like a guy whose natural game is to play his shots and Hafeez is a quality player who scores both sides of the wicket."

While the batsmen will be the ones under scrutiny, some may see the real contest as a battle between bowling attacks as Pakistan's has a lot to offer. Barnes regards Umar Gul as their "best bowler who is very skilful" and Saeed Ajmal as the "key factor" to their chances of success.

He also saw first-hand the two bowlers who will be relatively unknown quantities to South Africa - Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan. Left-armer Junaid swings the ball both ways while Irfan, at more than two metres tall, is expected to extract steep bounce. "Junaid drifted in an out a bit. He had some good spells and some average ones," Barnes said. "Irfan is definitely a massive presence. Bounce will be his strength but he struggled with his lengths and didn't seem to swing the ball much."

Irfan's Test debut is the most widely talked about point in the lead up to the series. While Jacques Kallis joked that some of the South African bowlers will go to practice on stilts, he does not actually seem too fazed about the prospect of facing him.

"Morne Morkel is not too much shorter than that so we are used to facing quite a bit of bounce. It will be slightly different but nothing we haven't seen before," he said. "There is so much video analysis around. I suppose it takes a few balls to get used to facing them but once you've seen them on video, you get an idea." Morkel, at around 1.9 metres tall, has been known to prosper on the more lively pitches on the Highveld and Irfan will hope to do the same in the Tests at Johannesburg and Centurion.

But it is not bounce or swing that Hashim Amla thinks will make the difference in the series. Precision and discipline are the traits he rates highest in his home conditions. "I've always felt that in South African conditions, it's usually the guys that are not necessarily quick but quite accurate who do well. Vernon is an example of that," he said.

"I think they've got a good bowling attack and what helps the sub-continent teams is that they usually bowl on flat tracks. So when they do come to a wicket that does assist them they have the discipline."

Local conditions are also what Kallis hopes will give South Africa's bowlers the upperhand in the contest between the pace packs. "They've got some good quality batters that have been around a long time but what we have in our favour is that they are not used to our conditions. They will be tested with the short ball," he warned. Other sub-continent teams have been told the same but Pakistan are the team that have prospered most. They will hope to continue that run.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by heartbreakerz on (January 31, 2013, 13:11 GMT)

Front-Foot-Lunge...it seems that d wounds of 3-0 whitewash are yet to heal n for your info. ICC have cleared ajmal n that's what matters not what you people think of him

Posted by   on (January 31, 2013, 11:49 GMT)

We should simply respect both the teams. SA is undoubtedly the No. 1 test team in world, Pakistan have not performed badly either in recent past, provided that they have not played a lot of test matches and did not play at all on their home grounds since 2009. Now SA has upper hand in the series because they are playing in their home condition plus they have the best pace attack in world. However, one should not under estimate the Pakistani, relatively younger pace attack, as well as the "Kings of Spin". One thing is for sure that nobody can ever predict Pakistan's performance.

Well, being a Pakistani I'll pray for Pakistan to win but no matter who wins, lets hope for fair play and some good cricket.

Posted by keptalittlelow on (January 31, 2013, 11:10 GMT)

The crux of the matter is if Pakistan batsman played SA bowlers well then a good contest is possible, else it wont go beyond 3 days..

Posted by ICCexpert.... on (January 31, 2013, 9:15 GMT)

Pakistan A team announced :- Sharjeel Khan, Ahmad Shahzad, Rameej Raja Jr, Imam-ul-haq, Umar Amin, Hammad Azam, Raza Hassan, S. Afridi, Zia-ul-haq, Anwar Ali, Jamal Anwar, Ali Waqas, Wahab Reyaz, Usman Qadir, Asad Ali.....looks a solid side with good batsmen and agressive bowlers....

Posted by   on (January 31, 2013, 6:41 GMT)

@ Abdullah Khan Hasanzai please check your facts. Since 2006 sa have not lost a series on foreign soil. SA have proofed that they are better than the rest of the world. We don't talk about a series win here and there. Tomorrow it starts. the talking is over. time to put your hand up and show who is the best.

Posted by jhabib on (January 31, 2013, 6:32 GMT)

I am confident that Pakistani bowlers will do well in SA. While some people think that Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan lack pace, I do not see this to be true. There are some recent-sore-losers here that will have you think that Pakistan's fast bowlers need more pace. I will let the speed gun do the talking.

Posted by crashed on (January 31, 2013, 6:00 GMT)

Well I am a bit confused here .. b4 the SA vs England series they said England will win 3 - 0 because SA were not good enough ... and after the series they said SA were playing a sub-standard English side and then everybody shouted - wait for Australia - they will take their rightful place at being number 1 back from SA (even went so far as suggesting SA need only to arrive on Australia soil and hand back the mace) - They could not win against a SA team that were plagued by injuries yet every1 bemoans the Perth match where SA comprehensively won the match, saying SA did not deserve that match. Fact is .. SA won against England and Australia they beat the best in their own backyards- twice - if you want to be the best you better beat the best or nobody will take note of you ... If Pakistan want to beat SA in SA good luck SA is currently the best and to be the best Pakistan will need to beat the best - forget about past matches the time is NOW this series SA VS PAK there will be a result

Posted by   on (January 31, 2013, 0:54 GMT)

i can only laugh at the comments of some S. African fans. I can see the glimpse of English fan before they came to Dubai in them. Yes the conditions are different, make no mistake that South Africa will be tested. What happened to this South African attack when they went to Australia?? they were taken for 500+ runs twice which proves that they are only good at home tourghs similar to India. So i won't consider Africa a world class team until they come out of their country and play abroad and win series, Yes its a challenge from me. Final thought --> Make no mistake, Africa will be tested. Good luck Pakistan.

Posted by Uzi-Khan on (January 30, 2013, 22:01 GMT)

Its going to be an interesting contest. In all fairness its Pakistan Batting V South Africa's bowling. Have no quarrels over bowling, just the selection. Would rather go with Tanvir and Rahat ahead of Gul and Irfan unless he can be fit.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (January 30, 2013, 21:54 GMT)

I think it's about time that bowlers with suspect actions should be made to wear sensors on them during the game, to put to rest highly truthful criticism of a bowler with a suspicious bowling action. Pakistan should agree to this.

Posted by Desihungama on (January 30, 2013, 20:46 GMT)

The Great Jaques Kallis thinks Pakistan is the best Sub-Continent Team. Well, Thank you Mr. Kallis. And Mr. Amla, what flat tracks for Pakistan? Remember, they don't play at home. Anyone else remembers that?

Posted by hamza1982 on (January 30, 2013, 20:05 GMT)

The middle order is a little worry, but I think they will come good. My starting XI: Hafeez, jamshed, Ali, Khan, Ul-Haq, H Sohail, Ahmed, Gul, J Khan, Ajmal, Irfan.

I would drop Shafiq and give Sohail a debut. Hes been scoring runs for fun in Pakistan. Should be confident.....

Posted by Smahuta on (January 30, 2013, 19:28 GMT)

Pak win the toss what will they do? If they bat they will be fielding by tea, if they bowl, they will be fielding for 2 days, hmm tough decision for the skipper.

Posted by LankaGod on (January 30, 2013, 19:12 GMT)

All one way traffic here, I can read the headlines... SA streamrolls Pakistan. Before you jump on SL record, just see what we did with the Aussies in ODIs and T20s. If you can manage that, then we talk, same message to the Indians who cannot defeat a club level team like England on home turf.

Posted by Resultpredictor on (January 30, 2013, 16:29 GMT)

SA bowlers will demolish Pakistan batting. Pakistan is playing on bouncy pitches after two and half years and they dont have enough practise to play on these pitches. Pak will lose all the matches by big margin. it will one sided contest

Posted by perl57 on (January 30, 2013, 16:03 GMT)

Being a pakistani, I think there is one simple wrong assumption to think. That Pakistan could even compete against SA forget about surprising them. The reason is very simple. There is a difference between facing Indian kids on placid batting tracks and surprising their tired, jaded, out of form, looking for rest stars against proving the same with SA batsmen who have Amla, Kallis, ABD, Smith in their line up. Not to mention Pakistan struggled a bit against Indian bowling which can at best be termed as club level attack. I know you Indian counterparts hate me for writing this but ask yourself, your bowling is awful. One of my guilty confession is to see Junaid doing the same to Amla what he did to Kohli. But then again, in Amla, Junaid would be looking at a man who has dominated Oz and POMS at their back yards. Bottom line, all tests would be lost. ODIs will be a joke. Pakistan will come back home knowing their place was among the bottom part. Good Luck,.

Posted by ZAB2121 on (January 30, 2013, 15:29 GMT)

@CricketMaan I dont think Ajmal will be a success in SA. Infact I wont be surprised if he gets dropped in 2nd test. PCB should have given Raza Hassan a chance because he bowls a tight line and doesnt give too much flight and a little spin.

Posted by CricketMaan on (January 30, 2013, 14:52 GMT)

Eng rolled over India, NZ beat SA in ODIs, SL rocked Aussies at home, so its now Pak beating SA? nothing is impossible. I think the team that can keep thier bowlers out of injury has the best chance. Ajmal will be the key. Challenge for Junaid, Irfan to not get injured yet bowl full steam for 3 Tests.

Posted by Mohammad_Imran on (January 30, 2013, 14:41 GMT)

All the Best Pakistan!

I'm sensing a collapse on the first day, but who will it be? SA or Pak?

Can't wait!

Posted by irfankiani on (January 30, 2013, 13:11 GMT)

@ grantking you need some correction the wicket of pakistan vs SA in Uae was batting paradise wicket not a spin wicket. The real spin track was pakistan vs england last uea.

Posted by DeckChairand6pack on (January 30, 2013, 12:39 GMT)

Our much vaunted pace battery was 'owned' by the Australian team recently, going at 5 an over for a whole day. I am so glad I did not stay up and watch that! I'm sure the Proteas will be using experiences like that to keep their feet on the ground and to focus on the job in hand. Nothing should be taken for granted.

Posted by ZAB2121 on (January 30, 2013, 12:33 GMT)

@Fast_Track_Bully yes there is no chance of crossing 300 in batting but if Pak do cross 300 then it will be difficult for SA to save the test.

My money is on Asad and Azhar to score big. Surely they will appear as a surprise package for SA bowlers.

Posted by cricketkhan on (January 30, 2013, 12:11 GMT)

most of the ppl here tend to forget one very important fact here, Pakistan has nothing to lose from this series, as they are pitted against #1 tets team. if they win thats gona be a big plus for them, if they dont,well, as they say the result is always on the cards. i believe Pak should go with a big heart and an all out strenght and attitude to perform in this series, only and only agression and self believe can help them in this series.my best wishes to my Pak team, and i look forward to a tense and well fought cricket.

Posted by   on (January 30, 2013, 12:04 GMT)

Wow, people are writing Pakistan off as if they are a club cricket team. The stature given to SA bowlers is reminding me of Greek gods in mythology. I admit that SA are a very good side (batting and bowling) but I would never think to make Pakistan appear as amateurs by comparison.

Posted by Farrukh.91. on (January 30, 2013, 11:55 GMT)

I think that Tanvir Ahmed should be given a chance ahead of Irfan, as Amla says that the key is discipline!

Posted by aliehsan731 on (January 30, 2013, 11:45 GMT)

Pakistani batsman will have to apply themselves really well. If they play well, Pakistan definitely have a chance with their strong bowling attack.

Posted by Fast_Track_Bully on (January 30, 2013, 11:27 GMT)

Pakistan can't hope anything in batting as most of their batsmen will be just travelers. Other than Hafeeze, there will not be anyone to hold the bat. It will be end of the road for Yunis Khan and Mishbah after this series. Batting bench strength of Pakistan is poor as I can't see any chance to cross 300 in any innings.

Posted by suniljoseph on (January 30, 2013, 11:13 GMT)

Well, in my opinion the supporters of RSA are living in dreams. This Pakistani team is a surprise package, so you have to be at your toes all the time. Junaind is very young and it is very good that he is getting a chance in seaming conditions in young age. Gul is mature enough to perform anywhere. and a lot can be expected from Younis Khan who is averaging 50 after 70 odd tests which is really good for Pakistan. So good luck Pakistan. I know you can do it.

Posted by   on (January 30, 2013, 11:04 GMT)

Pakistan batting line-up is not strong because they have not enough left handed batsmen. Every good teams has 2 or 3 left hand batsmen. But pakistan has only 1 left hand batsman and no left handed in middle order for long. I think pakistan need to find good left hand batsmen to strength the batting line-up rather than changing batsmen very often.

Posted by philosopher007 on (January 30, 2013, 10:52 GMT)

Too much hype surrounding SA, it was the same team and same pace battery that couldn't find a way to dismiss Clarke in recent test series. SA were lucky, nothing more to win that series, they only played well in last test and were praying to heavens to save the first two. It wasn't an emphatic win over an Australian side that is depleted after departure of many legends and also due to injury problems. I don't write off Pakistan, they surely have a chance because of the most balanced bowling attack in the world (Pace/Swing/Bounce/Spin). Batting will be an issue for Pakistan but the South African batting wasn't too dominating either in tests-ODIs against Kiwis. Lets wait for this wonderful series to begin without writing off any of the teams.

Posted by Jujal on (January 30, 2013, 10:35 GMT)

@ ahsanjabbar - A 2-1 for pakistan?? Not even in your dreams. SA will win the series for sure. The best result Pak can produce is 0-1, and SA will win the series.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (January 30, 2013, 10:31 GMT)

Looking forward to this, SA v Pak tests are usually great contests.

Posted by ahsanjabbar on (January 30, 2013, 10:20 GMT)

with current teams; the result: Pakistan 2-1. only one thing is required for Pakistan's win; Misbah's Captaincy. (Imran won the WC with a much weaker side in Australia.) Otherwise: 0-2 to SA.

Posted by Anti-ZCAdmin on (January 30, 2013, 10:03 GMT)

Pak batsmen will be very much tested in this series. Even if we are to see some good partnerships here and there I believe a batting collapse will always be around the corner. Senior players like Hafeaz, Younis and Misbah have to really come good. Even though most guys are saying that it is going to be evenly contest among the bowlers I believe SA pace bowlers have a slight edge over their Pakistan counterparts if you look at things like experience in playing in the home conditions. its in the spin department that Pakistain will have the edge. its going to be a good series though.......

Posted by Dannymania on (January 30, 2013, 10:02 GMT)

I see that everyone is telling everyone else what Pakistan 'needs' in order to triumph. well, I don't think Pakistan need much. They just have to go and play the game as well as they can. that's the best they can do. they don't 'need' anything! They have everything that a good team should have, in order to be successful. my best wishes are with Pakistan. I hope they compete well. happy competition everyone..

Posted by Clan_McLachlan on (January 30, 2013, 9:37 GMT)

If RSA can field Steyn, Morkel and Philander together two of the three Tests that'll be enough to take the series. It'll be good to watch whatever happens. With skilled bowling attacks on each side the batting wheat will be separated from the chaff very quickly.

Posted by   on (January 30, 2013, 9:24 GMT)

last test series vs pakistan smith 100, 34, 10 Petersen 67, 26, 2, 35 Amla 80, 118, 4, 62 kallis 73, 135, 105, 10 De Villiers 5, 278, 25 pretty good on a slow low spinning wicket. this tells me these guys can play spin. Now lets see if pakistan batsman can replicate this on our wickets. Good luck against vernon, dale, morney, kallis and PETERSON. There are going to be a morning on the first day where pakistan will have to bat first. I trust the guys who have been here before to do the job and feed of that.

Posted by chara17 on (January 30, 2013, 9:05 GMT)

Series will decide on how pakistan bats. Simple as this. Middle order batsman like Yunus, Azhar and Misbah has to play well. Rest we are confident on our bowlers to clean any batting line-up !!!!

Posted by   on (January 30, 2013, 8:53 GMT)

ReverseSwingMaster SA batsmen have played ho many series in the sub continent since 2006. How many have they lost. It was pakistan who had to hold on for a draw in UAE. Your spinners still need to do their thing here. Our batters know what to expect and believe me they do prepare well. I don't think SA have sleepless nights about your 1 spinner. Even when Murali were here our batters still scored runs and he turned the ball alot more than Ajmal. To have a plan against off spin is easy. Every body wants us to believe SA are going to be restricted to about 300. With the quality of batsman I think that is more a hope than fact. Lets rather wait and see how your 'great' bowling line up goes against our batters who are used to bouncing, seaming wickets. Then after that we will see how your batters go against our attack with our spinner that you guys don't count as a spinner. Looking forward to this series, hope one team don't dominate all 3 tests.

Posted by mani516 on (January 30, 2013, 8:47 GMT)

I hope Pak will do well in these matches but i am lit bit worried about Pak batting?

Posted by khurramsch on (January 30, 2013, 8:47 GMT)

i dont think its between bowlers of both side. it wil be batting which will decide. and more importantly how pakistan will face SA bowlers in not so fimiliar conditions. bowling is good on both sides but batting is what makes difference . SA is even more stronger batting unit on papers as well as on practical as its their home conditions. Hope to see some good fighting matches not like SA's last series.

Posted by ReverseSwingMaster on (January 30, 2013, 8:14 GMT)

@ TommytuckerSaffa:

Yeah same to you as well because we also have bowlers. If wicket supports a little bit spin then your so called great batsmen dancing time starts.

Posted by Sharbigma on (January 30, 2013, 8:05 GMT)

Pakistan need to develop a fast bowling all rounder. They have a good player in Hammad Azam who by now should have been a regular part of the side. Please develop fast bowling allrounder PCB Selectors. Please

Posted by adeelicap on (January 30, 2013, 8:00 GMT)

even if pak will draw the series 1-1 or 0-0, it will be the big thing for them, best of luck green

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (January 30, 2013, 7:56 GMT)

Some PAK fans are in for a bit of a shock. If the wicket has a slight green tinge and PAK bat first then its hammer time.

Posted by Tahasyed on (January 30, 2013, 7:32 GMT)

well this series is going to be very intresting and iam quite axious to watch. Pakistan have good batsmans the technique is good and i hope that some of the batsmans will improve their batting. they have tendency to stay at the crease which is very important. Guys like Azhar Ali have also performed well in England where conditions are quite similar to that of Saf. what my key concern are that they should not playing too much away from the body and wide of the crease with the foot going no where. steyn is the natural out swinger so if they make this mistake then steyn could be more lethal.

Posted by Sports4Youth on (January 30, 2013, 6:34 GMT)

Taufeeq Umar is the only Pakistani to have scored runs in South Africa. I hope he is fit enough to play by the time the 1st test starts on the 1st of February. He definately deserves the first opportunity to play in South Africa. He can replace eighter Azhar Ali or Asad Shafiq.

Posted by Sports4Youth on (January 30, 2013, 6:30 GMT)

The good thing for Pakistan is that Sarfraz Ahmed is definately a better Wikcket Keeper than Kamrna Akmal and he is also a better batsman compared to Adnan Akmal. So that gives them a better edge as far as the keeping and batting is concerned. In the practice match he has shown that he can hang around with the bat and also make some valuable runs. The tail must wag.

Posted by Sports4Youth on (January 30, 2013, 6:10 GMT)

If the Pakistani Batsmen do reasonablly well then the contest could be interesting, as we expect the Pakistani bowlers to do well.

Crossing 250+ regularly is going to be the key challenge for Pakistani batsmen. What I mean is that at the bottom of my heart, I serously doubt Pakistan's batting ability in these conditions and against these bowlers. My worry is that the Pakistani batsmen should not collapse to any score under 150. Because then it will become a no contest.

Regarding the much Hyped bowling of Pakistan, I must say that they need to find the right lengths on these pitches early on, which may not be easy, because for more the 2 years they have been playing onlyl on sub-continent wicktets like UAE, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka etc. BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY EVEN IF THE BOWLERS DO FIND THE RIGHT LENGHTS, THEN THE FIELDERS MUST TAKE THE CATCHES. Pakistans are easily worst fielders in the world. They should not repeat the experience of 2010 in England.

Posted by M.K.Luke on (January 30, 2013, 4:49 GMT)

Lot of talking from fans from both sides. I still believe that although South African team have the upper hand but Pakistani team is unpredictable. Everytime they come in ground, one can't predict which type of Pakistani team they are faced with. Fingers Crossed!

Posted by Vehari-Express on (January 30, 2013, 4:37 GMT)

I am anxiously waiting for the match... it will be a great contest. Pakistan should try to win first test match and they are capable of to do this. In first test they should stay at crease and try to play their natural strokes.. only tip tip tip wouldn't work here..are you listening me Mr. Misbah

Posted by fan_of_good_cricket on (January 30, 2013, 4:19 GMT)

All the hype about a great contest would be over within a few hours of play. Pakistan is no match for SA. Their past record, while players like Anwer, Aamer, Inzamam, Yousuf, Wasim, Waqar, Saqlain, Mushtaq, Shoaib were in the team, isn't good either. They did surprise the wolrd with a 3-0 win against England. But that was England, this is South Africa.

Posted by omar_choudhary on (January 30, 2013, 3:40 GMT)

I am tired of hearing the same old negative comments from Pakistani fans, that our team will lose or those pointing out all the so called weaknesses of the team. INSHALLAH WE WILL WIN! Stop moaning ppl.

Posted by TeamSelector on (January 30, 2013, 3:38 GMT)

Pakistan will play the same team that played in the warm up match. The Saffas are the clear favorites, with their superior batting & pace attack. However their only weakness happens to be Pakistan's greatest strength ... Spin. Pakistan's one & only shot in taking this series, is playing to their strength of spin bowling. Ajmal, Rehman & Hafeez must play .... with Junaid & one other fast bowler.

Posted by azurecharms on (January 30, 2013, 1:48 GMT)

Latest News! Taufiq is out and Jamshed is in. Jamshed in prime form. People will see Inzamam again. Not at number 4 or 5, but opening the inning. Winning toss will be important for Pakistan. Bowl first, bat second will be in Pakistan's advantage.

Posted by CorneredTiger92-09 on (January 30, 2013, 1:18 GMT)

Inshallah Pakistan surprise the Number 1 team in their backyard. It isn't impossible because Pakistan have the team to beat them. Its just depends on the Pakistan batting which hopefully does perform. Pakistan playing XI should be: Mohammad Hafeez, Taufeeq Umar (if fit), Azhar Ali, Younus Khan, Misbah ul Haq, Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed, Umar Gul, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan/Ehsan Adil/Tanvir Ahmed. Pakistan may not have the best team but they have a team that can beat the best but my prediction is 2-1 to SAF but Pakistan can prove me wrong. BTW Congratulations to Graeme Smith. To play in 100 tests is an honour but to captain 100 test matches is a mind blowing achievement. Excellent player and excellent captain. Respect from a Pakistani

Posted by nyazdanie on (January 30, 2013, 0:38 GMT)

It would be extremely intersting series, people will forget IPL and PPL.

Posted by Zahidsaltin on (January 30, 2013, 0:31 GMT)

I would play Haris Sohail instead of Asad Shafiq who is not up to it when the ball starts swinging. Even on dead wickets, he isn't more than a 30 or 40 score of worth.

Posted by Vezper on (January 30, 2013, 0:27 GMT)

Lets not get carried away, Azhar is Pakistan future star batsman with Asad right behind him, we can't dismiss them with one practice game.

I agree, PCB should have asked for two games, nevertheless , Azhar has Test class written all over him , and I have confidence with both Azhar and Asad but not too sure of Younis Khan, So, if are to play Taufeeq, he should come in for Younis, if Youunis does play, I expect his score to be 0 and 5....anyone like to take on the bet...SA will win the series 2-0

Posted by Drzeeshanafzal on (January 29, 2013, 23:45 GMT)

I think pakistan has a very good chance to win the series....Pakistan has better bowling than proteases...they have slight edge in batting but their players are also aging and not at the top of their game....it will not be easy to play irfan and junaid...if pakistan can make 300 plus runs it will be difficult for SA to make a come back...Many people will disagree with this but time will prove. I bet on Pakistan... Good Luck!

Posted by pak78 on (January 29, 2013, 23:27 GMT)

south africa will be up against the strongest spin attack in the world ... that should have been the main head line dont u think folks.

Posted by Syed_imran_abbas on (January 29, 2013, 23:25 GMT)

its hard to pick a team for pakistan as the most of them have been performing very well so far.. I think they should go with: (1) Hafeez (2) Taufeeq (3) Nasir Jamshed (4) Younas Khan (5) Misbah (6) Asad Shafeeq/azhar ali/ Haris sohail (7) Sarfaraz (8) gul (9)Ajmal (10) Junaid Khan (11) Irfan/Tanvir/Ehsan adil

Posted by hamza1982 on (January 29, 2013, 22:59 GMT)

The middle order is a little worry, but I think they will come good. My starting XI: Hafeez, jamshed, Ali, Khan, Ul-Haq, H Sohail, Ahmed, Gul, J Khan, Ajmal, Irfan.

I would drop Shafiq and give Sohail a debut. Hes been scoring runs for fun in Pakistan. Should be confident.....

Posted by LillianThomson on (January 29, 2013, 22:40 GMT)

The photo caption is wrong.

The story of this series is not Pakistan v the world's best pace attack. It is South Africa having the outrageous good fortune to avoid the world's best pace attack because Asif and Amir got themselves banned for their greed and stupidity.

Steyn + Morkel + Philander + Peterson v Asif + Amir + Junaid + Ajmal is a battle I would not for a moment favour South Africa to win, given that their three pacemen all averaged 30 in the series v England and Australia.

Pakistani Test tours of South Africa have often (98, 07) been close, low-scoring affairs.

South Africa will be hoping that their superior batting and Pakistan's lack of preparation will ensure that this is only a low-scoring affair for Pakistan.

Posted by KashifMuneer on (January 29, 2013, 21:57 GMT)

SA are definitely favourites to win the series so one would expect the series to be 2-1 to SA. Having said that if Younis and one other person in the middle order can find some form in the first test and carry it through the series, it could be a tight contest. I don't think our bowling is inferior to SA's but batting certainly seems so. Azhar Ali performs best in Asia and struggles to handle swing like in SA. My playing XI would be:

1.Hafeez 2.Jamshed 3.Taufeeq 4.Younis 5.Misbah 6.Shafiq 7.Sarfaraz 8.Gul 9.Ajmal 10.Junaid 11.Irfan/Ehsan Adil

Posted by Syed_imran_abbas on (January 29, 2013, 21:25 GMT)

Congrates to G. Smith. Pakistan should have atleast one more practice match to atleast test their all players and get use to of conditions. I think they didnt do that bad overhaul in practice game. I am hoping Pakistans middle order will click. This is going to be an exciting series. No matter what happens.. we just wana see a good Test cricket series.. can't wait...

Posted by maria_01 on (January 29, 2013, 21:20 GMT)

pakistan can worse than any minnow team on their bad day and can be the most superior team of the world on their supporting day....so lets hope for the best...if pak performs in batting department then they can challenge sa....if pak wants to win then they should how to safe wickets at crucial time...not like this that if they loose one wicket then wickets start falling like leaves falls in autum season...so pakistan should focus on batting dept more....may ALLAH PAAK give success to our greeen team Ameen go green go...

Posted by azurecharms on (January 29, 2013, 21:11 GMT)

Pak eleven should be: Hafiz, Taufiq, Jamshed, Yunus, Misbah, Shafiq, Sarfraz, Gul, Junaid, Ajmal and Tanvir.

Most probably, Azhar will play for consistency's sake, Jamshed will have to sit out. Irfan should not be in the eleven. Unproven, inexperienced and may get unfit. Tanvir is a better shot getting some success!

Posted by uzairamir on (January 29, 2013, 19:57 GMT)

pitches like south africa should be used in every game whether test matches,odis or t20,s.Its too much boring seeing batsmen making runs easily and the bowlers being hit all over the park

Posted by Surajdon9 on (January 29, 2013, 19:47 GMT)

If Pak Middle order will be click then it will be very hard to beat pak with those outstanding Bowlers of Pakistan who can make come back at any stage of Match ..Waiting for cracking series.All the best Pakistan and Congrats smith for such a geat n great occasions.Hats off to u legend....I would like to see Smith scored Century but turns it to the vain...

Posted by sohailus on (January 29, 2013, 19:27 GMT)

I don't mind whatever the result will be. I know the best team will win. I like to see the fast bowlers bowling with the JOSH from both sides because you don't see too many test series in which the condition is helping the fast bowlers. Waiting for the real excitement. Good Luck To Fast Bowlers.

Posted by heartbreakerz on (January 29, 2013, 19:14 GMT)

hoping for a close contest after all those one-sided test series in d last year or so, currently beating sa in sa is d toughest job in cricket but this Pakistan team certainly has d talent to do so but for that to happen their batsmen have to play out of their skins, that's tough but not impossible.

Posted by Ahsan-cric-freak on (January 29, 2013, 19:06 GMT)

At first many many congratulations to Smith! There seems to have much anticipation among the players from both sides, fans and media for the upcoming big series.. this shows that these two teams hold their grip on world cricket in recent times. Pakistan being most superior of the Asian teams will definitely go for the kill in the opening test. One can't disagree that SAF has the upper hand but it won't be a piece of cake for the Proteas.. they will have to toil hard for victory. it looks like that all three tests will end with some sort of result unlike those played in UAE between these two teams as the tracks in South Africa are sporting ones. we just wanna see tight cricket in this test series and being a Pakistani I will always love to see men in green winning BUT I must say that if Pak manages to level the series, it will still be a huge achievement and then Pak will go all out in one dayers.. BEST OF LUCK BOTH TEAMS>> Go GREENS!!!

Posted by Chacha_ckt on (January 29, 2013, 19:00 GMT)

It's a pity that PCB didn't ask for one more practice match. And it would have been great to have a four or five match TEST series rather than a glut of boring ODIs.

Posted by sirvivfan on (January 29, 2013, 18:48 GMT)

I concur wholly, Pakistan batsmen face their biggest challenge both technically and mentally. SA attack is almost perfect, with swing and pace. Their batting with Kallis arguably the best batter for the last 10' years makes them clear favourites. Hopefully have done sum research as to what to do if they win the toss. They will struggle if they bat first is my thinking. Does anybody have stats as to batting first or bowling in terms of victory?

Posted by i-s-r-a-r on (January 29, 2013, 18:33 GMT)

Hoping the bowling trio of steyn morkel and philander dont lack intensity in the first innings. On the other hand pakistan will have a point to prove and will be raring to go. If pakistan score 150 odd runns without losing any wickets southafricas intensity will go really down. They tend to wait for batsmen's mistakes and go through the motion in such cases.

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