Few sports have as much condition-related impact on the game as cricket. And there is hardly anything that matches winning abroad, in unfamiliar conditions, in conditions that stack against you and assist the opponents. It is, therefore, no surprise that good travelers are regarded highly in the game of cricket. At one point in time, South Africa was a team that used to win away and was duly regarded as one of the best travelers.
Although their cricketing landscape has undergone some severe changes and they no longer hold that title. They might not be strangers to the tag of good travelers, but on a slightly contemporaneous note, they are certainly no strangers to struggle either, when it comes to the subcontinent. South Africa last won in Asia in Galle, 2014. After that, they have been on a winless streak of 13 Tests in Asia, and the loss at Karachi was their 8th consecutive defeat in the subcontinent.
While it might be befuddling for some to grasp how things change with a change in location, that is how it works, at least in the sport of cricket. Same South Africa – rather slightly depleted with Kagiso Rabada missing – beat Sri Lanka 2-0 at home, but comes to Asia a week later and loses to a team that was steamrolled by New Zealand in their backyard not too long ago. Home advantage is certainly a thing, and one does not need a complex study for that to establish. But what can South Africa do to cease this decline?
At Karachi, there was not one error that led to their fall. Despite having their moments – which, though, were often created by the mistakes of their opponents rather than by their creation – South Africa allowed Pakistan to climb above every time. Their tally of 220 was not good enough, and to add to the misery, they were guilty of being sloppy in the field. They also managed to squander DRS calls with incredible consistency, and as if that was not enough, they allowed the dreaded collapse syndrome to do the rest.
For them to win anywhere, let alone the subcontinent, this would need a change. “If I knew I would let you know and if we knew how to fix them we wouldn’t be doing it in the first place,” stated a rather bemused skipper Quinton de Kock on being asked what South Africa could do to avoid batting collapses (they went from 175/2 to 245/10 in the second innings and 133/4 to 220/10 in the first).
Although, given that he has the onus to lead and keep wickets in all formats, and – not to forget – that the expectations from him as a batsman are always high, it is only fair to not dig in too deep into him. As for Pakistan, they will be soaring high on confidence after – as the head coach Misbah ul Haq stated – a “much-needed win”.
Much like Quinton de Kock, Babar Azam has also started his captaincy stint on a winning note, and from Fawad Alam’s century to Yasir Shah and Nauman Ali’s prowess with the ball, there were quite a few positives for the home side. That said, Pakistan would not want to be complacent with just one win at the start of what seems to be a promising return of international cricket in the nation.
Pitch and conditions
The track at Rawalpindi is known to be far more assistive for the pacers, with a decent cover of grass. This might lead to some chopping and changing in the eleven of the home side, despite as many as 14 wickets of South Africa belonging to spinners Nauman Ali and Yasir Shah in the previous game. However, if the track – as per the expectations of coach Misbah – is dry and well-baked, the spinners might pick themselves to enjoy as much as they did in Karachi.
Playing combinations for PAK vs SA
Head Coach Misbah-ul-Haq suggested that the management will be “open for change if needed” and they will not include a spinner “just because he did well in Karachi”. If indeed the Rawalpindi pitch favors quicks, Pakistan might slot in Haris Rauf at the expense of Nauman Ali.
Predicted XI: Abid Ali, Imran Butt, Babar Azam(C), Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Rizwan (WK), Nauman Ali/Haris Rauf, Yasir Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali
South Africa had to miss out on Tabraiz Shamsi as a last-moment exclusion in the first Test due to an injury. However, given the nature of Rawalpindi’s track, his inclusion seems unlikely.
Predicted XI: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock (C & WK), Temba Bavuma, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi
Head to head PAK vs SA
Played – 27 | PAK – 5 | SA – 15 | Draw – 7
Temba Bavuma needs 8 more to reach the 2,000 runs milestone.
South Africa is on a winless streak of 13 Tests in Asia, which encompasses a streak of eight consecutive losses.
PAK vs SA Broadcast Details
Match Timings- 10:30 AM (IST)
TV – SONY TEN 2, SONY TEN 2 HD
Live Streaming– SONY LIV
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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