South Africa will aim to maintain their domination at home when they take on Pakistan in the first Test match at Johannesburg on Friday.
Pakistan will be without the services of rock-solid opener Taufeeq Umar, who has played 43 Tests and scored 2,943 runs. Umar was pulled out of the tour after suffering a muscle injury in his shin.
Umar and regular partner Mohammad Hafeez had opened together in 18 consecutive Tests, a record for Pakistan, and the tourists were keen for the sequence to continue against South Africa's formidable fast bowling attack on a pitch likely to offer pace and bounce.
On the other hand, South Africa have built a formidable record as they have climbed to the number one place in the rankings, winning their most recent five series, including away encounters against England and Australia.
Philander and batsman Hashim Amla were both passed fit after missing recent matches but left-arm spinner Robin Peterson remained a doubtful starter after splitting the webbing between fingers on his right hand.
South Africa (Probable): Graeme Smith(c), AB de Villiers(w), Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Rory Kleinveldt, Alviro Petersen, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn
Pakistan (Probable): Misbah-ul-Haq(c), Sarfraz Ahmed(w), Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, Abdur Rehman, Azhar Ali, Junaid Khan, Faisal Iqbal,Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Irfan, Nasir Jamshed, Saeed Ajmal
Catch live scores and ball-by-ball commentary of the first Test between South Africa and Pakistan here
(With inputs from AFP)
First Published: February 1, 2013, 1:45 pm