South Africa v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Centurion

Centurion fortress to test battered Pakistan

The Preview by Kanishkaa Balachandran

February 21, 2013

Comments: 56 | Text size: A | A

Match facts

February 22-26, 2013
Start time 1030 local (0830 GMT)

Rory Kleinveldt trains, Brisbane, November 6, 2012
Rory Kleinveldt replacing Morne Morkel is the only change for South Africa © Getty Images

Big picture

If the first half of the South African home Test season was one-sided, the second hasn't been very competitive. Pakistan are in danger of suffering the same fate as New Zealand, in conceding a series sweep. Such has been South Africa's dominance that both Tests so far haven't gone into the fifth day. Pakistan, to their credit, showed fight at Newlands and at one stage, it was the hosts' turn to sweat and play catch-up. But against the best side in the world, the improved showing wasn't good enough. The visitors were guilty of taking their foot off the pedal when the advantage was theirs to extend, and their surrender threw up many baffling questions, ranging from team selection to Misbah-ul-Haq's tactics.

For starters, if the Newlands pitch was predicted to be the most favourable among the three Test surfaces for Pakistan, with its tendency to aid spin, why wasn't Abdur Rehman picked as the second spinner? Rehman was talked about as a likely replacement for the injured Junaid Khan, but he was benched. Saeed Ajmal ended up shouldering the burden of two spinners rather than one, his ten-wicket haul coming in a losing cause. Tanvir Ahmed drew flak for his harmless, 120 kph medium-pacers, who didn't even have the movement to trouble the batsmen. His was hardly a like-for-like replacement for Junaid and during the Test he looked least likely to get a breakthrough.

One player who could have given Ajmal the support needed was Mohammad Hafeez, but he was mysteriously underbowled by Misbah in both innings. Hafeez picked up four in an innings at the Wanderers, but bowled less than 12 overs in the match at Newlands. With the hosts on the brink of victory, Hafeez got one to dart off the rough so much that first slip collected the ball. One wondered about the impact he could have made had he been used effectively as a second spinner. His handling was not properly explained after the game. If Pakistan are to make a fist of the dead rubber at Centurion, they need to recognise their strengths and utilise their players properly, injury permitting of course.

A win at Centurion will not only give South Africa their fifth consecutive home Test win but also 50 Test wins for their captain Graeme Smith, who's now the most successful Test captain in history. South Africa don't play any Tests till the end of this year and Smith spoke of signing off this season with another win.

Form guide

South Africa WWWWW
Pakistan LLDDL

In the spotlight

Mohammad Irfan was one of the positives to emerge from the Newlands Test for Pakistan. The 7ft left-armer had an impressive debut, taking three first-innings wickets, but more than the wickets it was the steep bounce and teasing angle across the right-handers that drew notice. Several deliveries clocked in excess of 140 kph and if he can maintain that speed, he could be more than a handful in Centurion.

The Decision Review System was a topic of controversy at Newlands, with Jacques Kallis' dismissal in the first innings causing plenty of confusion, followed by an apology by the ICC's Playing Control Team stating that he was wrongly adjudged out. While the system has been effective in correcting howlers, loopholes still remain. Both Tests so far have had issues with technology but despite the glitches, both teams are in favour of the DRS.

Team news

Pakistan hinted at a change at the top six, but Misbah, not known to reveal changes on the eve of a Test, stopped short of naming players. Junaid's return isn't certain either, though the team manager said he was feeling better. Tanvir's poor showing might prompt a change, with rookie seamer Ehsan Adil, left-armer Rahat Ali and Rehman in the mix.

Pakistan: (probable) 1 Mohammed Hafeez, 2 Nasir Jamshed, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Asad Shafiq, 7 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 8 Umar Gul, 9 Saeed Ajmal, 10 Mohammad Irfan, 11 Junaid Khan/Rahat Ali/Ehsan Adil/Abdur Rehman

South Africa announced just one change, with Rory Kleinveldt coming in for the injured Morne Morkel.

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

Pitch and conditions

A typical fast bowler's strip is expected at Centurion. It has a tinge of green and is expected to be bouncier than Newlands and the high humidity is likely to aid swing. Thunderstorms are expected.

Stats and trivia

  • South Africa have lost just one Test at Centurion since readmission. It came against England after both captains agreed to forfeit an innings each.
  • Jacques Kallis is the highest run-scorer for South Africa at Centurion with 1267 runs at 70.68 with five centuries. He is also the joint second-highest wicket-taker for South Africa at the venue with 31 wickets with Dale Steyn, behind Makhaya Ntini (54).


"I'm running out of things to say. I am looking forward to that number growing even more. It's a great achievement for me and the guys that I have played with."
Graeme Smith on his thoughts on approaching 50 Test wins as captain.

"They know the importance of Test cricket. Everybody knows the importance and every team wants to win every game. It's not about winning series, its about winning every game."
Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, does not think South Africa will take their foot off the gas.

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

RSS Feeds: Kanishkaa Balachandran

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by duncanmoo on (February 22, 2013, 8:20 GMT)

I just love the form guide South Africa WWWWW. South African supporters revel/relish this, but dont be arrogant to others, it was just the other year that we had a lot more D's and L's in that line.

Posted by Sports4Youth on (February 22, 2013, 8:18 GMT)

SA with the toss and bat first.

But the big news is Imran FARTHAT replacing NASIR Jamshed. After the passing of every match it is becoming clearer that Misbah panicing. Jamshed got a bad decision in the 1st innings of the 1st match. Made a stylish 46 in the 2nd innings and recieved some special deliveries in the 2nd test. Yet replaced and HAFEEZ who played badly continues and does not bowl as well. BAD DECISION.

In the bowling attack, good that GUL is injured. I am not sure he is really injured. Since Sept, 2010 Gul has been playing all matches including all practice matches. I think this time Misbah must have felt pressured to drop Gul and try a new combination. In anycase Gul was becoming a liability. THE ONLY PROBLEM IS THAT THE PACE ATTACK HAS A COMBINED EXPERIENCE OF 2 (TWO) TEST MATCHES WITH A 19 YEAR OLD DEBUTANT. Infact all of them have debuted during this series. I hope the senior players are able to guide them..


Posted by Zia-R on (February 22, 2013, 7:46 GMT)

just due to misbha's negative approach and some good luck for SA pakistan have lost the 2nd test match but not this time for sure.

Posted by   on (February 22, 2013, 7:13 GMT)

zia-ar. concentrate on your team statistics for a change Form guide South Africa WWWWW Pakistan LLDDL

Posted by   on (February 22, 2013, 7:12 GMT)

SA is the number team now adays and they played well then Pakistan however our prayers are with Pakistan and wish that they win. Rahat and Tanveer both are tested but no fruitfull results with the bowling, i think ehsan Adi should be given the chance if wicket is supporting fast bowling otherwise Rehman is the best choice.

Posted by Zia-R on (February 22, 2013, 6:26 GMT)

i can bet Pakistan will win this match, i think SA does not deserve the first place, i am still with australia, Australia is still the best cricket team. and this last match will tell u people.

Posted by spas on (February 22, 2013, 6:25 GMT)

battered Sri Lanka managed a test win amid underestimations they were getting from all over the world a some time back. By the way, it is the armies matter, not the fortress. more determined team will win.

Posted by JunaidRao on (February 22, 2013, 6:06 GMT)

Another defeat is waiting for Pakistan.

Comments have now been closed for this article

Email Feedback Print
Kanishkaa BalachandranClose
Tour Results
South Africa v Pakistan at Benoni - Mar 24, 2013
South Africa won by 6 wickets (with 36 balls remaining)
South Africa v Pakistan at Durban - Mar 21, 2013
Pakistan won by 3 wickets (with 8 balls remaining)
South Africa v Pakistan at Johannesburg - Mar 17, 2013
South Africa won by 34 runs
South Africa v Pakistan at Centurion - Mar 15, 2013
Pakistan won by 6 wickets (with 28 balls remaining) (D/L method)
South Africa v Pakistan at Bloemfontein - Mar 10, 2013
South Africa won by 125 runs
More results »
News | Features Last 3 days
News | Features Last 3 days