Pakistan vs South Africa Tour Preview : Green meets Green

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It’s been a roller-coaster ride for Pakistan in the UAE deserts, but did you enjoy this unpredictable insanity or prefer a forced magic-carpet ride like me?

Witnessing a collapse whilst supporting the Pakistan team, you decide not to watch cricket again, or at least not Pakistan's. It's akin to falling down from a bicycle for the first time and deciding never to ride it again. But after a short period of time, you are able to pull off some crazy stunts on that same godforsaken bike.

Similarly, you decide not to watch a Pakistan match after witnessing yet another jaw-dropping collapse. Nevertheless, you are witnessing your nails getting shorter and increased yield of salivary glands, enough for some Ian Pavlov to do an experiment. That's Pakistan, and they are interesting that way. They test you. Your mental strength and all.  

The next adventure is ahead.Venues are going to change, so is the opposition. Pakistan will be the same: the unpredictable as they like to be called. Sarfraz recently said, "Underdog patch proves good for Pakistan". Good tour awaiting. And by good, I don't mean easy. The complete package of buy Tests & ODIs and get T20 free is ahead.   

STAT: In their last five test encounters, South Africa lead by 4-1.

Pakistan is facing tons of problems in the longest format. They performed well in both 2nd tests against Australia and New Zealand, but apart from that, very typical. They had not taken control in this format, nor had they taken control over some of their habits that invite collapses.  

Pakistan: areas to improve 

After the retirement of Hafeez for good, Pakistan is looking to stamp a strong pair at the top. With Shan Masood back in the squad, it's a good chance to play him along with Fakhar Zaman (if he is fit) but Shan Masood may not be the first choice opener possibly because of the fact: "you can see the new ball very well if you wear spectacles".

Sarfraz Ahmed is having a shocker of a season. Vocal cords getting stronger, performances getting worse. He’s undoubtedly been a good player for Pakistan in the past since he doesn’t use up many balls and is always looking to score. But if you are being more fidgety than Steve Smith but the shot you prefer in every situation is the sweep shot, hard pass.

To back up Yasir Shah, a spinner is needed. Bilal Asif isn't coming back to the Pakistan squad soon unless Krunal Pandya becomes the selector of Pakistan and selects him as an option who bowls spin-bouncers by emulating some arm balls. Trying the legspin-twin attack is worth a try as a replacement of a seamer, enhancing the batting line-up too with Shadab.

Two months ago, they had Vernon Philander and we had Abbas to answer. South Africa will miss his services in the 1st test and Abbas has gone through an injury too. Pakistan's hopes are focused on him and his are on getting that tight-length-seam-bowling venom back. Muhammad Amir, after having a decent domestic season with coach Atiq uz Zaman, is called up into the squad. The coach was very confident about Amir to get his swing back and told that they were working on his wrists too. If Amir gets his swing back, he will be an important weapon for Pakistan. Pakistan has a lot of choices this time as they can go with Faheem too to strengthen the batting depth.

South Africa

The Proteas have been a team of good bowling pairs and consistent batting lineups. More often than not, their batsmen touch 4 in the run rate box which will be a warning sign for Pakistan. With Hashim Amla back in the side, it won't be easy for Pakistan to go through this hefty batting lineup.                                                                                 

A big teaser for them is the absence of Lungi Ngidi and Vernon Philander. No huge in-dippers expected but the experience of Steyn and fierceness of Rabada is still there. Pakistani openers will not find it easy to bat for two days there.

A huge test for Sarfraz

Sarfraz has been rightly criticized for his nonexistent batting performances and his mediocrity is accentuated when you shout on every tiny misfield of your teammates. His test captaincy will be on the line in the upcoming series. He not only has to bat well but his bowling changes and field-settings should be on point too. Putting pressure on a Proteas line up is necessary as it's full of players that can stabilise the innings with their contributions.

In this modern day and age of technology, there might be some sort of a device which utilises the sound vibrations from the vocal chords to enhance the brain capability. Just saying.

Written by Abdul Shakoor

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