Monday, October 18, 2021

Boucher expects ‘great’ Test series against Pakistan

KARACHI: On its first tour of Pakistan in more than 13 years, South Africa’s cricket team landed here on Saturday and went straight into a bio-secure bubble ahead of the two-Test series.

The Proteas’ tour will get underway with the first Test against Pakistan here at the National Stadium followed by the second and final Test in Rawalpindi. The tourists will also meet the hosts in a three-match Twenty20 International series in Lahore next month.

The team, led by wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock, was whisked from the airport under state-head level security.

The 21-member squad had two Covid-19 tests before their departure from Johannesburg which all came back negative, and they will be further tested on their arrival.

Officials say the squad will stay in individual isolation until the results of the first round of testing are released before they start training in a ground adjacent to their hotel.

South Africa’s head coach Mark Boucher has showed satisfaction with the security arrangements in Pakistan.

“We’ve had our (security) guys go there (to Pakistan) and do a recce of the situation and they have said it is safe,” said Boucher, part of South Africa’s last tour to Pakistan in 2007.

Terming Pakistan as dangerous opponents, Boucher said that his team has prepared a comprehensive strategy to conquer the hosts.

“Pakistan is a dangerous side at home; we will have to come up with a proper strategy to beat them at their own backyard.

“The wickets here in Pakistan are batting friendly, and we are relying on our batsmen to score runs. Their confidence will be high after scoring runs against Sri Lanka. Our fast bowlers will have to work very hard to get wickets.

“Pakistan bowlers will have home advantage, so this series will be a test for our batsmen, but once they are successful in occupying the crease, they will be able to score freely.

“We are excited to play in Pakistan again, and expect a great series ahead with all focus on the game,” he said.

Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq is hoping that his troops will click in the home series.

“South Africa have never been an easy side to beat, but them playing after 13 years in Pakistan will be an advantage for us, and we have a great chance to improve our record against them,” he said.

“The two Test matches in the ICC World Championship are very important for us and we will try to get maximum points out of it to improve our position on the table.

“Playing at home ground is always encouraging for the players, and it reflected in our performances in the series against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh last year.

“The series against South Africa is an important one, and I am sure the players selected in the squad have the potential and hunger to give best results in the series.”

Pakistan will be hoping to make the best out of the two Test-match series. This will be their first home Test against South Africa in more than 13 years. South Africa who last visited Pakistan in 2007 and won the two Test-match series 1-0, will aim to continue their winning streak over the host country.

Both sides met for the first time in 1995 at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg which the home team won on the fifth day by 324 runs. In the 26 contests so far, South Africa have won 15, while Pakistan have been victorious on four occasions. The last Test between the both sides was in January 2019 in Johannesburg which the home team won by 107 runs.

Pakistan have hosted seven Tests on home soil in which the hosts have won one, lost two and four have remained drawn. In the only Test hosted at National Stadium in Karachi in October 2007, South Africa defeated Pakistan by 160 runs, becoming only the second team in history to beat Pakistan at the venue.

In the current Pakistan Test squad, Azhar Ali has faced the opponents in 10 Tests scoring 481 runs at an average of 25.31. Captain Babar Azam has scored 221 runs at an average of 36.83 from three Test matches with two half-centuries.

Among the bowlers, left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi has featured in two Tests against South Africa, taking nine wickets. All-rounder Faheem Ashraf in his one outing against the tourists took six wickets.

Among the South African touring party, captain de Kock has scored 251 runs in three Tests against Pakistan at 62.75. Former captain Faf du Plessis follows with a tally of 246 runs in seven Tests at 27.33, Among the bowlers, Kagiso Rabada leads the pack with 17 wickets that he picked up in the last series between the two sides at 18.70.

Source: The News

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