Pakistan cricket coach Mickey Arthur Photo: John Walton/PA Wire

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur flicked a rueful smile when he was asked to reconsider his pre-series talk of pushing South Africa in the Test series that finished this week.

Arthur had boldly proclaimed that his side had an attack that could knock South Africa over and possibly cause an upset.

In the end, despite some spirited sessions here and there, the Pakistanis lost 3-0, with some bloodied noses and reputations. A few of their key men simply did not step up, and that meant that Arthur’s best-laid plans looked half-baked.

But this was always going to be a tour of two halves. The red ball component had its importance, for sure, but every nation in world cricket is now prioritising their 50-over concerns.

The showpiece event of the game, the World Cup, is months away and everyone is trying to play everyone in the build-up.

Despite a comfortable ride in the Test matches, and obvious momentum, South Africa know they will now be met by a very different challenge.

“They are a very good one-day side. We know that the series will be a lot closer than the Tests,” Proteas coach Ottis Gibson warned.

Arthur: Pakistan could knock South Africa over and possibly cause an upset. Photo:Tim Goode/PA Wire
Arthur: Pakistan could knock South Africa over and possibly cause an upset. Photo:Tim Goode/PA Wire

Pakistan, in their light green garb, are capable of any performance under the sun. They can shock anyone when the mood takes them, but they can be a pale shadow of themselves when they wake up on the wrong side of bed.

They are a brilliantly talented, infuriating lot, but they are potent when they want to be.

Ask India.

Heck, ask South Africa to recall their last serious meeting. In the group stages of the Champions Trophy at a soggy Edgbaston, Pakistan rekindled their tournament with a brutal heist on one of the favoured teams.

While South Africa eventually tumbled out, Pakistan rumbled on, all the way to the final. There they trounced India in the final, showing a scintillating side to their sorry start to the competition.

That is Pakistan in an intriguing nutshell.

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The Proteas will hope the real deal shows up because they need the sincere practice.

The visitors, hurt as they were by the Test matches, quickly shifted their attention. Even as the post-match interviews commenced at The Wanderers, several of the visiting squad were in the nets using white balls.

They are desperate to make amends and that is just how their hosts want them to be.

They would love it if the real Champions Trophy holders stood up.


The Star

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