Pakistan cricket has faced many ups and down in recent years including match fixing and terrorism. No team has visited Pakistan in last four years and Pakistan’s tour to other Test playing nations have been dramatically reduced as well. Besides India, South Africa is the only country where Pakistan has not played a Test match in last six years. Most of the player included in the squad for Pakistan’s tour of South Africa will be new to the South African pitches. None of the fast bowler has ever played in South Africa and only a couple of Batsmen have played Test cricket in South Africa.
Despite all that Pakistan has continued to show glimpse of hope that remind us the glory days in 1990s. Pakistan has continued to produce world class bowlers on yearly basis whereas lack of good quality batsmen has haunted Pakistan team for almost a decade now. Pakistan team will be playing their first test match since July 2012. However, the team over the last couple of years has shown some hope with Test wins but playing conditions in South Africa could be very different from UAE.
Statistically, Pakistan has only won 3 out of 18 tests played against South Africa. Whereas South Africa has won 8 test and 7 have been drawn so far. Pakistan has only triumphed once in a test series against South Africa which they played on home soil in Pakistan. None of the current lineup of batsmen, except Younis Khan, has ever scored a century against South Africa. No bowler has ever played test against South Africa except Saeed Ajmal who has only 3 test wickets against them.
Having narrated the vulnerabilities of Pakistan we should also acknowledge the advantages Pakistan has against South Africa. Conditions in South Africa have been known to favor fast bowlers and Pakistan’s current lineup can dismantle South African quickly. Weakness of South African batsmen against spinners is a known fact and our spinners will certainly enjoy bowling in South Africa. Batsmen on the other hand will face a bigger challenge from South Africa’s pace attack. Slightly higher bounce and pace will create difficulties for batsmen.
On the whole, though South Africa have been declared as favorites to win the series by many pundits of cricket, unpredictability of Pakistan is likely to cause an upset for World No 1 test side. If Pakistan can prove their consistency and resolve to win against the South Africa it will also carry a string message for return of international cricket to Pakistan.