South Africa looks to bounce back after humiliating first Test defeat
World No. 1 Test team South Africa head into the second Test match, against Pakistan at Dubai on Wednesday, with an inention of trying to square the two match series which they trial 1-0, after losing the first game by seven wickets in Abu Dhabi.
The Proteas, for the record, haven’t lost a Test series since 2009 (when they lost against Australia 2-1 at home), and before the Abu Dhabi shock, they hadn’t lost a Test match since early 2012, when they lost to Sri Lanka but went onto win that series 2-1.
South Africa, already, face a comprehensive challenge as they are without star batsman Hashim Amla. Hashim is back in South Africa awaiting the birth of his child, and as a result he will not be able to take further part in this Test series.
This is worrying for the Proteas because it was only Amla who looked in touch in Abu Dhabi as he scored a gritty hundred, while most of the top order failed. Skipper Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis were horribly out of touch as they failed to impress in both innings, while Smith’s opening partner Alviro Petersen also fell cheaply twice.
Amla’s most likely replacement is Dean Elgar, who has a decent average of 32 in six Tests he has played. Elgar will be under immense pressure to fill Amla’s shoes.
The Proteas are also sweating over the fitness of premier fast bowler Dale Steyn, who picked up a hamstring niggle during training and missed out in the nets on Monday. Steyn will ndergo a late fitness test tomorrow morning. Rory Kleinveldt is like for like replacement incase Steyn fails to recover.
Talking of hosts Pakistan, Abu Dhabi was only their second win in their previous nine Tests, and it was a much needed relief for Misbah and co. especially after the hounding they recieved from media and former players back home. Their new opening combination of Shan Masood and Khurram Manzoor, played unexpectedly well, as the absence of Mohammad Hafeez was hardly felt.
Misbah is highly unlikely to change line-up, given their success in last Test. Even though Dubai historically favours fast bowlers, Pakistan will stick to spin duo of Saeed Ajmal and Zulfiqur Babar.
Players to watch out for
Zulfiqur Babar – Five wickets in your debut match must be dream come true for a cricketer. This is what happened to Zulfiqur Babar – second oldest player to make debut for Pakistan. With skipper Misbah-ul-Haq’s backing he can turn out to be a very useful bowler and if the blunt truth be told he at times during first Test outbowled Saeed Ajmal.
JP Duminy – The South Africans will need Duminy to come good, after his half-century in the previous Test where he showed imperious skills in playing slow bowling and at one stage it looked all his hard work in IPL might finally pay-off for gutsy lef-hander but Duminy failed to make most of his flawless 57 runs as he picked out a deep fielder trying to sweep Babar.
The enormity of task the Proteas has infront of them can gauged from the fact that in the four Test matches played at Dubai so far Pakistan are yet to loose a match. From the comments of Dav Whatmore one thing is cleared Pakistan are going to play safe and will be more than happy to draw this Test and by virtue win series 1-0. Hence, the onus falls on South Africa to drive this Test toards some result but looking at conditions it seems highly unlikely that this Test will be anything other than a draw.
Pakistan: Khurram Manzoor, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Asad Shafiq, Adnan Akmal, Saeed Ajmal, Zulfiqur Babar, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan.
South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Alviro Petersen, Jacques Kallis, Dean Elgar, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn/Rory Kleinveldt, Morne Morkel
Last five meetings:
2013: Pakistan won by seven wickets in Abu Dhabi
2013: South Africa won by an innings and 18 runs in Centurion
2013: South Africa won by four wickets in Cape Town
2013: South Africa won by 211 runs in Johannesburg
2010: Match drawn in Abu Dhabi
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