Pakistan vs South Africa: Which green team will come out stronger?

Published: January 27, 2013

South Africa poses a starkly different challenge for Misbahul Haq's men, who will be playing outside the subcontinent after a long time.

The morale-boosting One-Day International (ODI) series win in India earlier this month may have given much heart to the national team and its fans, considering the fact that the side had to overcome the immense pressure of playing the world champions in front of highly partisan home crowds, not to mention the prospect of facing a batting line-up, which on reputation, was considered one of the finest in the world in limited-overs cricket. 

While the fact that Pakistan were able to come out on top in the battle of nerves that comes into play every time they face India, there is little doubt that the ODI series-win against the arch-rivals will not count for a lot on the upcoming tour of South Africa that kicks off on February 1.

The world’s top ranked Test side poses a starkly different challenge for Misbahul Haq’s men, who will be playing outside the subcontinent after a long time.

The alien conditions, the prospect of facing arguably the best pace attack on the planet, and attempting to break the defences of a batting line-up that is as formidable as any in the world, will surely be playing on the minds of the players.

Add to this, the fact that this is the first tour in South Africa for quite a few members of the team, who have not often been tested by a side of the class of the Proteas. This makes this upcoming African safari the most important test for Misbah’s captaincy so far.

The positive aspect, thus far, has been the fact that the Pakistan captain does not seem to have been carried away by the excellent effort of the team in India. His statements indicate that he is cognisant of the challenges ahead and realises that it will require a superb display of skill, class and mental toughness to overcome the challenge posed by the likes of Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers and Vernon Philander, among others.

Such an attitude is all the more welcome as the series-win in India could not hide the fragility of the batting line-up that seemed too reliant on the performances of a youngster like Nasir Jamshed.

Despite the recent superb show put up by the fast-bowlers, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan and even Umar Gul, if Pakistan is to pass the South African test, they will need the experienced hands in the batting line-up to pull their weight.

Misbah and Younus Khan will need to come into some sort of form as quickly as possible if the national team wants to post competitive totals.

Having surreal expectations from youngsters like Jamshed, if he is selected in the playing 11, or even from a relatively more experienced batsman like Azhar Ali who will be touring South Africa for the first time, will be quite unfair.

In the same vein, asking the likes of Khan and Irfan to run through the hosts’ batting on a regular basis will be equally uncalled for, notwithstanding their brilliant show across the border.

Despite this, if there is anything that gives Pakistan hope of competing against South Africa on equal terms, it is the bowling attack of which Khan and Irfan will be integral cogs. In the past couple of seasons, Pakistan’s spinners have answered the call of duty and led the team to some famous wins.

While the likes of Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman will remain a handful, the pace attack’s performance will be the key to Pakistan’s chances.

Misbah and Coach Dav Whatmore, will do well to remember this, as well as the fact that the batsmen will need to take their performance up a notch or two from their usual standards in order to give a creditable show over the coming weeks.

Read more by Amna here.

Amna Lone

Amna Lone

A sub-editor for The Express Tribune’s editorial pages.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • https://twitter.com/Educated_Jahil Rehman

    Duh I was expecting detailed analysis. Please give me my 5 minutes backRecommend

  • Bane M

    I think the issue is the middle order. Too often has the middle order contributed nothing- infact, umar gul and junaid khan individually outscored the middle order combined in the warm up game. They definitely need to get their act together if Pakistan are to push South AfricaRecommend

  • http://Sydney SK5

    Very well written article, no doubt this is the biggest challenge to have faced Pakistan cricket for a very very long time. I think its sort of unfair that Pakistan got a 7 month gap before playing its first test vs South Africa, The PCB needs to make test matches a priority from a simple purists point of view. Their decision to play only 2 test matches in West Indies is quiet dissapointing especially for some very young talent such as Ali, Jamshed, Shafiq, Khan and Irfan.

    Last year when we white-washed the former world no.1 side England, it was one the greatest moments of Pakistan cricket. I would love to see Pakistan repeat such an effort in South Africa, Good luck men in green we know you’ve got it in you to win :)Recommend

  • Amir Sattar Atari

    They are both wearing the color of Islam. Inshallah both teams will win.Recommend

  • k.shah

    Good analysis. We all know that Pakistan’s chances almost inextricably rest on the endurance and application in the batting department not to mention maintaining exceptional standards inside the playing field, their brilliance in the bowling department notwithstanding. Regrettably performances in these key areas has been found wanting for many years to say the least. Trouncing England in the Emirates earlier last year in pleasant conditions is a far cry from what is to be expected on express and bouncy tracks in South Africa against a top-ranked side. Considering the fact that the most of the players would be experiencing their first full-scale test tour in the RSA, it is extremely unlikely for Pakistan to accomplish a win in the three-match series. They indeed did manage to share a home series back in 2010 in the Emirates against the same opposition, but expecting this current batting line up to withstand the skill, might and ferocity of the SA pacers and consistently provide our bowlers with reasonable scores throughout would be expecting a bit too much.Recommend

  • http://www.cameofy.com Naseem

    I think it ll be a very good contest but SA is favorite because of their best betting and bowling line. But our team is coming along quite well. To me, i think Asad shafique and jamshad nasir ll be the men to watch in batting line up and i think they are a great talent for pakistan. Come on PAkistan! Recommend

  • http://syedaabidabokhari.wordpress.com The Only Normal Person Here.

    Always … ALWAYS Pakistan.Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/15769/pakistan-vs-south-africa-which-green-team-will-come-out-stronger/ AcE

    Thanks for telling :DRecommend

  • Sinbad

    Nasir will def play. Azhar & Nasir have to step up and prove their full potential as world class batsman who can hold their own in any country and on any surface. I disagree with the author a wee bit. Nothing is unfair or uncalled for when you are part of the country’s first team. You are a professional and you are expected to deliver the goods, experienced or not. Having said all this if our team can consistently put up 300 plus runs on the board we will have a great chance of winning the series. Our bowlers will do more than what is required of them. Good luck team Pakistan !Recommend

  • BRUISED INDIAN

    Hahahahha! Hashim Amla is Muslim so if Pakistan loses then they will take refuge in the Ummah has won thingy! Recommend

  • Sinbad

    @ bruised Indian “with comments like that, no wonder your’e bruised “!!Recommend

  • sensible

    @Rehman
    Visit ESPNcricinfo you will find tons of detailed analysis, blogs, statistics and articles.Recommend

  • Moosa Khan

    Whoever can pay more to the other team to lose will come out stronger.Recommend

  • BRUISED INDIAN

    @Sinbad: Aint nothing wrong in what I said… read Amir whatevers comment!
    I rest my case. Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Educated_Jahil Rehman

    @sensible:
    Thank you very much EINSTEIN Recommend

  • Rashid

    Hashim Amla is under great pressure. If he fails to perform against Pakistan……
    I am scared to see any further!Recommend