Pakistan have departed for South Africa for quite a tough tour as they would play a three-match Test series against the world number one team on their home ground. What could be worse than that? Pakistan have lost six of the previous nine Tests they played here and chances of success are very slim in the current series as well. However, they have a balance team and must have gained confidence after the recent historic victories against India.

[caption id="attachment_486" align="alignright" width="249"]Pakistan have lost six of the previous nine Tests played against South Africa (Photo: Getty Images) Pakistan have lost six of the previous nine Tests played against South Africa (Photo: Getty Images)[/caption]

That’s why Pakistan former captain and batting great Zaheer Abbas opines that although the hosts seem favourite in the series, Pakistan can still surprise them if they successfully deal with Dale Steyn and other South African pacers.

Talking to, Abbas said that the Test series would be a tough one for Pakistan and they have to acclimatise to the conditions in South Africa as soon as possible as the wickets there were very bouncy. He said the role of the team’s top-order batsmen would be pivotal and they should score enough runs Pakistan’s bowlers can fight.

He criticised the idea of playing just a single four-day warm-up match before a Test series against the world No.1 side. “Playing conditions in South Africa are quite alien for our players and they should have been given a chance to play at least three to four war-up matches before the series.”

The former batsman Pakistan have not played a single Test match in recent months, so a single warm-up match would not do and it is going to be a challenging series for Pakistan.

Talking about the technical challenges Pakistani batsmen likely to face against South African pacers, Abbas said, “Our batsmen should be able to decide in the fraction of a second whether to play a ball or leave it, or which delivery is suitable to play a hook shot. Pakistan bowlers are going to face a lot of bouncers, so they should formulate a plan and then stick to it.”

He advised Pakistani batsmen to stick to one approach. “Out batsmen need to be focused, because if they get double-minded, they would be doomed.”

The former cricketer said scoring runs would not be an easy task for Pakistani batsmen against Steyn, Morkel and Philander. He said the most crucial thing for the batsmen would be to stay at the crease and make the most of every opportunity. Though he advised Pakistani batsmen to prolong their innings as much as they can, he also warned them not to be too cautious and maintain a positive approach.

“Our players would face trouble if they fail to take opportunities.”

Abbas, famous as Asian Bradman, said Pakistani batting line-up would mostly hinge on the trio of captain Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammed Hafeez and Younis Khan.

He said although it was heartening to see Pakistan’s top six batsmen play in the series, the three batsmen have to lead from the front and play big innings.

“It’s not the series where innings of 30 or 40 will suffice. Only that team will win whose batsmen score big centuries.”

He said that having won an ODI series against India, Pakistan must be confident when they face South Africa. He said though Test cricket is quite different from ODI, the fact that Pakistan current squad includes most players from the winning combination would work in Pakistan’s favour.

“The 2-1 victory against India must have imbued our players with self-confidence and positive thinking and I’m hopeful our team will utilise that edge against South Africa.”

Abbas said Pakistan can surprise South Africans if their try to perform to the best of their ability. “Our batsmen have to play big innings. Pakistan are one of the best Test teams in the world and I hope all our players put in great performance in South Africa.”
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