South Africa v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Cape Town February 12, 2013

South Africa expect 'grafting' pitch


South Africa expect to have to put in more work with the bat than they have done in the home season so far in the second Test against Pakistan in Cape Town. Hot weather in the build-up to the match has left the surface dry and set up what Allan Donald called a "grafting wicket," for what could turn out to be the bowlers' first challenge of the summer.

None of the three Tests played so far have gone the distance largely because South Africa's attack has cleaned up opposition cheaply. This time though, they may not have conditions to facilitate that.

"It's not quite a 49 all out pitch," Alviro Petersen, South Africa's opening batsman said after examining the Newlands strip. Although there was rain in the city over the weekend and some is expected on Wednesday, neither Donald nor Petersen thinks the nature of the pitch will change too much and both expect a "good Test wicket," that will provide a more balanced contest.

Pakistan will benefit from that. "If there is one ground where they can bounce back its Newlands," Petersen said. Not only will it be gentler in terms of pace and bounce, it is the surface most likely to provide something for the spinners although South Africa are mindful to keep that to a minimum. "We don't want to bring their spinners into it at all," Donald said.

What it means for South Africa is that more responsibility will fall on the batting line-up than at any other time in the home season. They showed they were ready to front up in the first Test when Graeme Smith chose to bat in tricky circumstances at the Wanderers with a lot of swing on offer.

Their total of 253 appeared below-par and probably was until the bowlers inflated it by dismissing Pakistan 49. "Our bowlers deserve all the praise they are getting because they have often got us of tight situations," Petersen said. "So often, we have a second innings lead and then we can approach batting differently." More aggressively, in other words.

South Africa's recent Test victories have been achieved that way. Because their bowling gives them an advantage, they have been able to bat sides out of the match. At Newlands, Petersen believes they may have to rein that in and he is confident they will be able to. "We've learnt to defend at the right time and attack at the right times. But you have to be able to adjust game plans," Petersen said.

To prepare, Petersen played for Lions in their final first-class match of the summer against Warriors in Port Elizabeth. He had the dual purpose of helping the franchise contend for the title and getting match time against an attack similar to Pakistan's.

Like the tourists, Warriors have a left-armer in Wayne Parnell, and a wicket-taking offspinner. Simon Harmer is no Saeed Ajmal but he is the spinner who has claimed the most scalps this season. Andrew Birch, the Warriors medium-pacer, is also among the leading bowlers in the first-class competition so Petersen feels he got in valuable practice.

Petersen was the only Test batsman to feature in the final round of first-class matches but said the rest had been preparing in their own ways. "We don't want to get into a casual mode," Petersen explained.

While the batsmen prepare for a sterner examination of technique, the bowlers, with the knowledge that harder work awaits them, are being monitored by Donald to ensure they are at their peak. "It's important to keep in check with their attitude every day and that's what we do," he said. "They've got their feet on the ground, they are humble and they know their games inside out."

Donald maintained that the current crop is "without a doubt the best I have seen," but did not get carried away with that admission. He acknowledged their habit of taking wickets off no-balls - which happened twice in the first Test - is "unacceptable," and stressed that they will aim to "stick to the high standards we set for ourselves," at Newlands. With or without assistance, the quicks are guaranteeing they will not let up.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 14, 2013, 7:06 GMT

    Wicket was watered tuesday and have a tinge of green to it.raining today in cape Town so moisture in the air. Maybe getting hotter later. This could be over by day 3 or 4.

  • Dummy4 on February 14, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    @ hst84, crashed, edgie and johnnybegood, well there seem to be a flury on my comment. SA is world beater in last 4 years because other teams are not playing well, Most Austrlian and Indian greats have retired during this time, otherwise i do remmeber Allan Donald last test when he retired in desperation of an innings and 360 run defeat, i remmeber all the world cups SA played that how they are humilated, even by pakistan. 2ndly the Dale factor non of his delivery has been ever mentioned in so called bible of cricket the Wisdon, where they had a list of wickets of the century, and the research and other stuff on web and ICC is known to everyone when Philander is adjudged the best player and Saeed Ajmal is not even considerd, and how much SA is playing is evident from the recent AUS-SA series where they just got away. and what SA has ruled ? just been NO 1 recently when PAK destroyed ENG, and lets see till how long they will last. the true CHANPIONS were Austrlians when they were No 1

  • Casper on February 14, 2013, 5:22 GMT

    @IndianSRTfan correction Adelaide not Auckland - were very tired when I typed this sorry for the typo :p

    well may I remind you - since you replied to Rhygwyn with the same match in mind that it were only Morkel and Steyn (without kallis and (Duminy -still -) and Philander) 50% bowling strength and the batters had come to our rescue - also known as faffing around and ABdV so if the bowling department HAD failed on 50% strength then the batting line up still pulled us through and that is great about this team If the bowlers did not perform the batters made up for it and if the batting have not performed their bowling made up for it. Ask Australia and England what happens if both click. Devastation (Oval, Lords and Perth) As for Steyn not getting wickets of the great SRT and Dravid - look at an earlier post I made both in SC conditions. And what happened years even months b4 cannot be used as an indicator on current form. I expect Vern to play a gem of an innings 2day batting or bowling

  • Aniket on February 14, 2013, 0:36 GMT

    @Posted by Rhygwyn on (February 13, 2013, 11:33 GMT) Regarding the "Gems" you mentioned which I had commented upon, lets look at "hard statistical data" from the past. Philander has been out with injuries maybe three times and he has not yet played 15 tests. So I'd say there is a good reason to call him injury prone. Second the SA "TEST" team crumbles under pressure. Yes they do mate you seem to have forgotten Adelaide test earlier in Australia where this same bowling attack was carted for 482 runs in a day. So it appears when attack is taken to them this bowling attack can lose patience and the team which relies on their talented bowlers begins to look helpless especially as there is no quality spinner who can bottle up one end and take wickets. Other comments you mentioned, yes, they are pretty pathetic and lack any logic. SA team is great mate but seems to me the fans are getting overconfident. Just like the Indians few years back and look where it got us.

  • Casper on February 13, 2013, 22:46 GMT

    @IndianSRTfan I am sure you missed it - Duminy (a spin bowler) got injured in the first test against Australia before he could bat and bowl - Phillander and Kallis got injured before and during the second test in Auckland and we drew both those two tests to the consternation and annoyance of the Ausie fans . They could not took 18 wickets and 20 wickets (Kallis did still bat :P) poor ausies hope they fare better at the indian continent but - on second thought I hope the Indians beat them up for good measure :p

  • Casper on February 13, 2013, 22:38 GMT

    @Khan Axax 1. R Dravid b Steyn 3 51 26 0 0 11.53 13.1 superb delivery and India are staring down the barrel here! Steyn pitches that on a good length in line with offstump, the ball seams away just a shade, a circumspect Dravid shapes to drive straight, misreads the movement and the ball just shaves the top of offstump 53/5 Test no. 1871 | 2007/08 season Ahmedabad 3,4,5 April 2008 (5-day match) SR Tendulkar c †Boucher b Steyn 7 25 16 1 0 43.75 14.1 142.2 kph, Got him! Steyn rulez. It came in the air, landed on a length, around the middle and off stump line and curved away. Tendulkar stuttered out to drive, the length drawing him forward, and he was then done in by the away movement. He did push his bat slightly outside the line, trying to cover for the away swing but the ball moved fractionally more and kissed the outer edge. Fabulous delivery. Tendulkar's forward movement wasn't as smooth; he stuttered out... 56/3 Test no. 1951 | 2009/10 season Nagpur no need to say more

  • Dummy4 on February 13, 2013, 19:54 GMT

    all haters of Pakistan team beloww... get a lifee mann.. this is cricket and as it is very well said cricket is a funny game and things happen... Lets hope to see a good contest and a good game of cricket.... in the end it should always be the game who must be the winner... Pakistani players are new to these conditions and if most of you have forgotten SA was fav to win the series from the beginning so if they do there is no shame... Many so called better teams have been through the same when in SA... so just shut up you all and let the GAME BEGIN......... and dont spoil ma mooddd baggazzz...

  • Dean on February 13, 2013, 17:29 GMT

    The dry conditions look as if they might tempt Pak to play both their top class spinners. However I think they need to be pretty cautious here. Even if we see a very dry surface theres no guarantee it will turn early & picking both spinners might just lead to a very unbalanced attack. If the 2 spin option is taken then it will leave Pak with just 2 seamers, one of which is likley to be club bowler Mo Irfan. I think even with a dry surface any team needs 3 seamers for a test in SAF. It's a shame for Pak that they don't have any sort of seam bowling allrounder. Hafeez is a a good enough option as the 2nd spinner & with the club bowler likley to make his debut I really think they should probably stick with a 3rd seamer instead of Rehman.

  • Harmon on February 13, 2013, 16:56 GMT

    You don't need grass on the wicket or even a remotely helping wicket to see Pak rolling over once again. Pak is a team that can get you record low scores even on the most lifeless wickets. You see, in 2002, Pak did the unthinkable. Playing vs Aus on the dead wickets of Sharjah, Pak got all out for 59 in the 1st innings which was their worst test score till then. For any team, even BD and Zim getting all out for 100 is not acceptable, even on a green wicket. So imagine how shameful it must be that a team like Pak went no where near even that 100 run mark. Now add to it that it wasn't a green wicket but a real dead wicket. So it is easy to see just how shocking and inept that batting must have been.

    If you think this is all then you miss out on the punchline of this whole joke of a performance. Pak got 59 in the 1st and when they batted in their 2nd innings, they made their worst score merely their worse score. They got all out for 53.

    59 & 53 was in Sharjah --- and this is Cape Town.

  • Dummy4 on February 13, 2013, 16:04 GMT

    i think pak needs to bat and bat long to succeed younis misbah asad nasir all will have to show guts

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