Quinton De Kock, South African skipper of squad touring Pakistan has admitted the fact that unfamiliarity with Pakistan conditions is one of their biggest challenges to be overcome as they prepare to face the hosts in a two-Test series starting January 26.
From the current South Africa squad, none of the players played in Pakistan. Only head coach Mark Boucher has experience of the conditions as he was part of South Africa’s tours of Pakistan in 1997, 2003 and 2007.
Quinton de Kock: Pakistan Will Have Advantage Of Home Conditions
The current Pakistan tour is the Proteas’ first since 2007. At a virtual press conference, Quinton de Kock admitted that home conditions definitely give Pakistan the edge. He played in last year’s IPL before South Africa’s white-ball series against England, which came to an abrupt halt with half the games not played when England, spooked by cases of the virus detected went home.
The limited-overs series against England was before the home Test series against Sri Lanka, which was concluded 10 days ahead of South Africa’s departure for Pakistan.
The wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Ksock was quoted as saying: “In all honesty we don’t know what the conditions would be like because none of us have played here before barring our head coach. We have spoken to the coaches about how we’ll prepare for the series. We’ll be up against a side which have the advantage of home conditions, regardless of its makeup. The biggest challenge for South Africa will be the playing conditions.”
Quinton de Kock added that spin will play a major part in the Test series.
Quinton de Kock: “Look, we are not going take Pakistan lightly by all means. They have picked several spinners who are unknown to us. Of course we understand that spin plays a huge part in the subcontinent because the pitches suit them more and we have got our bases covered.”
Terrorism took international cricket away from Pakistan from 2009 to 2015 after the terrorist attack on a Sri Lankan bus where the cricketers had a narrow escape thanks to the bus driver in 2009. During that time the Pakistanis played 134 matches away and another 135 at neutral venues – 84 of them in the United Arab Emirates.
However, since May 2015 they have been able to host 28 games at home, not least because the government has provided a level of security afforded visiting heads of state.
Quinton de Kock: Pakistan Will Be Much More Competitive For Babar Azam’s Return
Quinton De Kock also conceded that the return of skipper Babar Azam will boost Pakistan considerably. Babar Azam was ruled of both the T20I and Test series against New Zealand with a thumb injury, despite being in the squad.
“Pakistan will be a much more competitive side in the series because of their key player Babar who is returning from injury. Mind you, I have played in New Zealand and it’s never easy playing there on seaming pitches and South Africa had also struggled to beat them [New Zealand] in their own backyard. We all know how good Babar can be in all conditions,” Quinton de Kock said.
South Africa and Pakistan will face off in the first Test in Karachi from January 26. The second Test will be held in Rawalpindi from February 4. The teams will also feature in a three-match T20I series to be played in Lahore on February 11, 13 and 14.