Pakistan and South Africa are set to lock horns for the first test in Karachi on 26th January. South Africa will play a Test match on Pakistani soil after 14 years.
Cricket has started to gradually revive in Pakistan as more cricketing nations are showing interest to tour Pakistan.
South Africa’s experienced batter, Faf du Plessis, is looking forward to the new challenge in Pakistan.
“I am looking forward to it, and I hope that it is the same as it was 13 years ago; the wickets are flat so we the batters can score some runs,” he said.
Pakistan Team News:
Pakistan has chosen an interesting squad with some new faces in the setup. They have discarded experienced Shan Masood, out of pace Mohammad Abbas, and out of form Haris Sohail. These players have flopped in the recent tour of New Zealand.
There are many new players who have shined in Pakistan’s recently concluded Quaid-e-Azam Trophy domestic tournament.
“This is a reward for their consistent performance, hard work and perseverance during a difficult season played under the strict COVID-19 protocols; this is also an endorsement that domestic cricket will be valued and respected, and will remain a stepping stone for international cricket,” said Pakistan’s chief selector Mohammad Wasim.
Babar Azam will lead the side for the first time in this format. Currently, he is the best batter in this line-up, and all eyes will be on his captaincy as well his own batting performance.
With a lot of new players coming into the squad, sometimes insecurities run in the back of the mind for few players.
Azhar Ali, the captain, has impressed upon young players the importance of self-confidence and trust in their skillset while noting that pressure is inevitable.
“Even if you play as a youngster or up there for long, pressure will remain forever. But obviously, for a new player, it is a challenge to handle pressure, and then there are insecurities in our culture around what if they are dropped.”
Furthermore, he said, “Obviously, we understand that there is a big difference between international and domestic cricket which make them a bit insecure. But as a senior player, my advice to them is to trust their skills and stick with that they are doing to do well because that is what is going to give them a best chance to performance. If you think too much, that will bring negativity and hold you from doing well. So be positive and grab the opportunity.”
Pakistan Squad: Abid Ali, Abdullah Shafique, Imran Butt, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam (c), Fawad Alam, Kamran Ghulam, Salman Ali Agha, Saud Shakeel, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Yasir Shah, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Tabish Khan
South Africa Team News:
South Africa has come out with a full-strength squad for the tour. The squad has a good mix of established players as well as unfamiliar faces.
Rabada, Ngidi, and Nortje are the three frontline bowlers who regularly deliver with the ball.
Pace bowler Lutho Sipamla could be a dark horse in this line-up as he has impressed in domestic cricket. He has the ability to bowl out of the box deliveries, late swings the ball, and surprises the batsman with one odd delivery.
South Africa Squad: Quinton de Kock (C), Temba Bavuma, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Kagiso Rabada, Dwaine Pretorius, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Rassie van der Dussen, Anrich Nortje, Wiaan Mulder, Lutho Sipamla, Beuran Hendricks, Kyle Verreynne, Sarel Erwee, Keegan Petersen, Tabraiz Shamsi, George Linde, Daryn Dupavillon, Marco Jansen
South Africa is also supposed to host Australia in March. Due to the full calendar year and strict COVID-19 protocols, they will have to look at two different squads for the series against Pakistan and Australia.
“In working with Cricket Australia (CA), we’ve come to a lot of those medical conclusions and how that’s going to look. There will be an initial quarantine period before that series. Unfortunately, we would have to play two different squads at the time,” said Cricket South Africa’s director Graeme Smith.
Pitch and Weather Condition:
The wickets in Pakistan are usually flat; therefore, it will be batting paradise. However, the National Stadium at Karachi is the only stadium where there is slight help for the bowlers.
The weather will be partly cloudy, with a temperature of 22 degrees approximately. Early on in the morning session, there could be moisture on the pitch due to the dry winter season going on in the country.
It will be an important series for the home side as international cricket gradually returns to Pakistani.
Pakistan is the favorite to win this series, but you never know with the Proteas as they are coming from a series win against Sri Lanka back at home.
Although crowds are still not allowed in the stadium, many spectators around the world will follow this test series with great interest.
Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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