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Feb
14

Were Pakistan really Test-ready ahead of the Wanderers Test? Going by their first-innings capitulation for 49 – their lowest Test score – certainly not.

Pakistan-South-AfricaWhen you’re up against the No.1 side in the world, you want to give your players enough time to acclimatise and adjust to the seamer-friendly conditions. A solitary warm-up game in East London wasn’t enough. With the first Test starting nearly three weeks after the India tour ended, there were suggestions that Pakistan could have arrived in South Africa earlier, and probably squeezed in another warm-up. Mohammad Hafeez had stated recently that Pakistan needed more Tests in their calendar to get some momentum going. For a team that last played a Test in July, their preparation ahead of the Wanderers was inadequate. They were caught short against the moving ball and the captain Misbah-ul-Haq said Dale Steyn was too much for his batsmen to handle.

Their opposition in the warm-up between Tests – the Emerging Cape Cobras – may not have been the strongest, but it was an opportunity to rectify those technical glitches, and Younis Khan was the only batsman to score a fifty. The pitch at Newlands is expected to give Pakistan some relief, as it is expected to favour the batsmen more than the Wanderers strip did. What Pakistan need to show is resilience, and since Misbah took over, they’ve shown plenty of that.

South Africa have no such concerns and will look to wrap up the series at their strongest home venue. Graeme Smith, who led South Africa to the top of the rankings, will be playing his 100th Test as captain of his country. Their decision not to rotate their bowlers, unlike Australia, indicated they’re hungry to close out the series as soon as possible. The early finish at the Wanderers gave them an extra day’s rest.

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 and 11 Junaid Khan/ Mohammad Irfan/Rahat Ali

South Africa will play an unchanged line-up.

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

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