|Scorecard:||South Africa v Pakistan|
|Event:||Pakistan in South Africa 2012/13|
DateLine: 14th February 2013
South Africa v Pakistan
2nd Test 2013
The Proteas dished out a resounding win in the first test, continuing their fantastic form in the test arena and leaving little doubt in their dominance at the top of the rankings. Itís not only the team who tops the test rankings now, they cover all of the top spots in the individual categories as well.
Pakistan will need to find ways to survive against the South African pace barrage. This is becoming a prospect that is difficult to envision for any side, let alone a team more used to the slower wickets of the subcontinent. Pakistani teamís technical frailties were seriously exposed in the last match. They, as usual, found it tough to negotiate pace, seam and swing. However, as critics and fans say, they are the most unpredictable team of the whole lot, and thus they always have some ability to bounce back and inflict an upset on the opposition.
The Proteas will not likely find as good an opportunity to create a prolonged era of dominance in the test game as they do now. Hashim Amla moved past Michael Clarke to top the test batting rankings, and together with the number one ranking in ODI cricket, must now be considered the best batsman in the world. Yes, rankings change and often quite quickly. Whether Amla will stake his claim at the top remains to be seen.
One man who has consistently topped the rankings for years regardless of fluctuations is Dale Steyn. His eleven wickets in the last test came with ferocious pace and swing and he doesnít look like heíll be slowing down anytime soon. Jacques Kallis is now recognized as the best all-rounder in test cricket by the rankings, but this is something world cricket has known for the better part of a decade, at least. Heís probably the best all-rounder to ever play the game. The Proteas have also become the first side to bowl out a team for less than 50 on three occasions in a calendar year. Four of the top six batsmen reside in the top ten of the rankings and all three front-line pace bowlers are in the top ten of their category. Is there a way for Pakistan to beat this Proteas side? If there is, I sure canít see it.
The wandering nomads of world cricket have a mountain to climb at Newlands. Itís a prospect far more daunting than a quick ascent up Table Mountain, this is more akin to an Everest quest. In order to succeed in South Africa against their venomous pace attack, a sideís top order must be in relatively good nick with clear plans of what to do against the swinging, rising new ball. It requires a steely, patient resolve with a solid idea of where the off stump is.
Although Pakistan, in their second innings, managed to form a partnership or two, it is the ability to do this on a consistent basis and in both innings, that I feel is a stretch too far for them. They won their warm-up against the Emerging Cobras on the back of a great bowling performance, led by the lofty Mohammad Irfan as chief destroyer. Irrespective of his fitness concerns, he must start for the Pakistanis to have a chance of fighting fire with fire. Their batting was again a cause for concern, and no one apart from Younis Khan spent any extended time at the crease. To further worry the cause of Pakistan, Junaid is still struggling from an injury from practice match and is likely to miss this match.
A scenic Newlands will host the second test and presents the best chance in the series for the spinners to make an impact. However, with Saeed Ajmal being the best Pakistan test bowler of last season, it is unlikely that the South Africans will allow a pitch to be prepared that would benefit him too much.
Seamers, especially Vernon Philander, have prospered in tests here recently. It is likely to be difficult in the mornings and flatten into a delightful batting track for the first few days. As it begins to deteriorate, spin may begin to play a part. There is a chance of showers on the opening morning, but other than that, expect a sunny test.
South Africa (probable): G Smith, A Petersen, H Amla, J Kallis, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, D Elgar, V Philander, D Steyn, M Morkel, Kleinveldt
Pakistan (probable): M Hafeez, N Jamshed, A Ali, Misbah, Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, Sarfraz Ahmed, Umar Gul, Rahat Ali, M Irfan, Saeed Ajmal
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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