‘Good batting performance can win the series in South Africa’
KARACHI: Former Pakistan cricketer Zaheer Abbas believes Pakistan have the potential to shock South Africa, who are being touted as the favourites, in the upcoming Test series starting February 1 in Johannesburg.
Abbas said the batting performance is the key to Pakistan getting a positive result in South Africa, adding that it will be tough as the conditions will be unfamiliar.
“The Test series will undoubtedly be a very difficult one for the Pakistani batsmen due to the conditions being unfamiliar and they are going to have to adjust very quickly to the extra bounce available to the bowlers in South Africa. It’s all about the Pakistani top order applying themselves and ensuring they give the talented Pakistani bowling line up enough runs to defend. The South Africans will look to apply pressure on the Pakistanis and Misbah and his team need to be able to cope with that pressure,” Abbas told PakPassion.net.
The former batsman rued the lack of practice matches for the team prior to the series, saying that Pakistan need more than just one warm-up match as they have not played Test cricket since July 2012.
“One four-day match before the opening Test match is definitely not enough particularly given the conditions are totally different to Pakistan and also given that Pakistan has not played any Test cricket for several months. They should have played at least two or three warm up matches ahead of the opening Test match and going into the opening Test with such little preparation will be a tough ask for the Pakistani batsmen,” he added.
He further said that South Africa’s pace attack which has Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander will be the biggest challenge for Pakistan.
“The Pakistanis will be tested thoroughly by an experienced South African pace bowling attack who will bowl a lot of bouncers at them. The challenge for each of the Pakistanis is to decide on their approach against the short ball and stick to that approach.”
Abbas also said that Pakistan have a huge advantage in the form of Misbah ul Haq, Younis Khan and Mohammad Hafeez who should lead by example for some of the younger batsmen.
“The Pakistani top six has a nice familiarity about it and a certain degree of stability. There’s the experience of Misbah, Younis and Hafeez, in addition Taufeeq Umar, Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali have been a regular part of the batting order in Test cricket and that is a good sign. I would like to see Hafeez, Misbah and Younis Khan to be the batsmen who take charge out there and look to play long innings. This series will not be about the batsmen who score a nice 30 or 40, big hundreds are required and the team whose batsmen make those big hundreds will be the eventual winners.”
Abbas said that Pakistan have the potential to spring a surprise on the number one Test side in the world if the batsmen perform well.
“If Pakistan plays to the levels they are capable of then they can surprise South Africa, but the batsmen have to put the big scores on the board. The Pakistan team is one of the best Test sides in the world and I’m hopeful that Pakistan can perform well in South Africa.”