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PAK-SOUTH-AFRICASouth Africa have consolidated their No. 1 ranking since claiming the spot against England, and while their series victory over New Zealand was a formality, it showed the hunger and ruthlessness not to let the title slip away as easily as it had from other teams over the last two years.

This series against Pakistan should require them to lift their game again although the visitors have not played a Test for six months. South Africa start as favourites, and rightly so, but there is enough firepower in Pakistan’s attack to cause some difficult moments.

It will be down to the batsmen to ensure there are enough runs on the board to make it count. The bounce provided at venues such as the Wanderers will test the back-foot technique of the young and older players alike; for Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali and Nasir Jamshed it is their first experience of South Africa.

Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel pose as a tough a challenge as there is. Swing, seam and bounce. South Africa’s Test unit is now very settled, the decision to stick with AB de Villiers as wicketkeeper allowing them added security of a specialist batsman at No. 7. Dean Elgar’s hundred against New Zealand means, barring injury, there will be no urge to change in this series.

The match will also be dominated by South Africa marking Smith’s 100 Test as captain (99 for his country and one for the World XI). He has not always been a favourite of the fans, although opinions have started to sway in recent months. Winning helps that. It will be a surprise if South Africa do not add another series trophy, but they will have to work for it.


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 Vernon Philander, 9 Robin Peterson, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Morne Morkel.

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 Junaid Khan, 11 Mohammed Irfan/Tanvir Ahmed

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