The South African cricket team will not only look at completing another Test series victory against Pakistan in the sub-continent, but will also take on the responsibility of putting on a decent show in a country that has recently allowed for international cricket to return to its shores. The Proteas last toured Pakistan in 2007, winning the Test series.
Although Pakistan has been poor against the Proteas, batsman Faf du Plessis acknowledges that the home side does put on a strong performance in their own backyard.
Conditions will also play a huge role in the outcome of the series.
The first Test will be held in Karachi which has been the home team’s hunting ground, losing only two games out of 42 played at the venue. This was against England in 2000 and the Proteas seven years later. The current squads are both similarly placed, with the two assembling fairly inexperienced sides. Almost the entire Proteas team has not toured Pakistan before, with only a few that have had a taste of the Sub-continent conditions.
Batsman Faf du Plessis, sees this Test as another opportunity for both teams to give their players a platform to gain further experience.
“Both test team are busy figuring out way forward in terms of gaining experience as much as possible. For all of us, it’s a first time playing test cricket in Pakistan but for a lot of our team it’s the first time playing in the sub-continent. I think we are expecting it to be a very tough task against Pakistan and they are a very dangerous team in their own conditions as with other sub-continent team.”
The former captain will be interested to see how the reverse swing goes, which is expected to play its part.
“It’s almost like the game is moving a little bit away from the reverse swing but the umpires and the rules on trying to scuff up the ball has become very strict with everything that has happened, bouncing the ball in the rough has become less of late so if you are playing in the sub-continent what happens quite often is that next to pitch the square is moist and green so the general scuff up of the ball does not happen like it used to.”
Du Plessis is hoping for big scores looking at the trend of Test matches on the sub-continent.
“Teams come here and score big runs. So, I’m hoping it’s the case this time around where there will be big scores almost Day 1, 2 and 3 belonging to the batters. Day 4 and 5 spin and stuff like that comes into equation. That is how it was back then. Just on a personal point of view, I’m expecting it to be a little different maybe spin a little earlier than it used to be back then.”
Du Plessis, who has an average of 27 against Pakistan, is hoping that he does well in this Test series. He and opening batsman Dean Elgar were the in-form batsmen against Sri Lanka.
“I’m batting well at the moment. I’m feeling good and I just want to play my best cricket. I’m really excited for this tour. I have worked hard. I want to put in some good performance in the sub-continent as a batter to do well overseas.”
Du Plessis says the return of Babar Azam to the Pakistan team will be a confidence booster to the home side.
Azam, who missed the New Zealand Series, will captain Pakistan for the first time at home in a Test series.