Pakistan are a tough proposition and even though the series has been settled, they could prove a handful in the third Test against South Africa starting at Centurion on Friday.
The touring side do lack a fourth bowler of sufficient quality to really push the Proteas batsmen, yet their performance at Newlands in the second Test was good enough to place uncomfortable pressure on the world’s No 1-ranked side.
This admission from leading Proteas batsman Hashim Amla yesterday was a clear indication that South Africa expect more of the same at Centurion, although the batting unit is determined to make up for an average showing in Cape Town.
The match is a dead rubber, but South Africa are keen to extend their run of wins to six, while at the same time Pakistan know that a defeat for them will mean dropping into fifth spot on the rankings below arch-rivals India.
Amla seemed unconcerned about the side’s batting performance at Newlands and believed, in the context of the game, they had done well.
“It was not an easy wicket to bat on in the first innings – for both teams – and, with one more game to go, I wouldn’t read too much into it,” said Amla.
Speaking of seven-foot paceman Mohammad Irfan, Amla said they would look at the Centurion wicket before they worried about the damage he could do.
“If Irfan had played at the Wanderers, where there was a lot of bounce, we’d have been able to judge him better. If Centurion has a bit of pace and bounce, then all the seamers will come into play more.”
He added: “Irfan bowled quite well at Newlands and it’s not often you face someone so tall. He got a lot of bounce but, fortunately for us, we face Morne Morkel in the nets, so we have an inkling of what he’s like.”
The Proteas will be without the services of Morkel, who will sit out the third Test with a hamstring injury.
Dolphins fast bowler Kyle Abbott has been called up to the Proteas side in place of the injured Morkel.
Cricket South Africa national selection convener Andrew Hudson said: “Kyle has done extremely well in the Sunfoil Series this season.
“He had an outstanding match return of 12/96 against the champion Cape Cobras and finished the series as the leading wicket-taker (49 wickets) and with the second best average (15.36) and an economy rate that was substantially under three to the over.”
However, it is highly unlikely that Abbott will make the starting XI with Rory Kleinveldt set to take the place of Morkel.
Kleinveldt has been part of the national set-up since the November tour of Australia and is likely to earn his fourth national Test cap.
Amla said: “The series is already sealed so there is less pressure on getting Morne ready and playing him half-fit. It’s a lovely opportunity for Rory to cement his position as one of the leading bowlers in the country.”
Morkel will be looking to make a full recovery for the one-day internationals against Pakistan that will follow the Test series and is more than likely to be joined by Lonwabo Tsotsobe on the list of returning seam bowlers.
“We did consider Tsotsobe [for the Test] but unfortunately he is still recovering from an ankle injury and will only be fit in time for the limited overs part of the tour,” said Hudson. - Cape Argus