2nd Test: Pakistan seek to rectify batting woes against spirited South Africa
Pakistan lost 9/90 in the second innings in Jo'burg. (AFP Image)

The last time a Test match took place in Newlands, Cape Town, it got to be known for all the wrong reasons despite South Africa earning a hard-fought win. Like Australia, Pakistan are wounded too. After taking a 1-2 series loss against New Zealand, they capped the year off with yet another defeat, and a rather comprehensive one at that with the match finishing inside eight sessions. The atmosphere is sombre in the dressing room, as per batting coach Grant Flower, but with the new year comes a fresh start and Pakistan would like to address the one area that has hurt them severely of late: Batting collapses.

After managing to score just 181 in the first innings, they faltered immensely in the second losing nine wickets for 90 runs that led to a dressing down from coach Mickey Arthur. The worry is nothing new; it’s been happening since Hamilton 2016, but somehow the problem has persisted for almost three years now. Pakistan have failed to cross 190 in four of their last six Test innings and they need to find a solution if they are to level the series in the second Test in Cape Town starting Thursday.

South Africa would be high on confidence after a dominating performance saw them take the match by six wickets, but not before their own batting stuttered a bit in the first innings. Make no mistake, Pakistan’s bowling more than makes up for their fragile batting and the hosts would be aware of the threat left-arm pacers Mohammed Amir and Shaheen Afridi pose, courtesy their combined tally of nine wickets in the first Test. Dean Elgar and skipper Faf du Plessis stressed on the seam-friendly, sporting pitches which suit the current bowling crop South Africa possesses.

Date: January 3 to January 7, 2019

Time: 1330 IST

Venue: Newlands Cricket Stadium, Cape Town

Weather: Overcast conditions with the temperature ranging in mid-20s

Team News

South Africa

Vernon Philander, who has a bowling average of 16.55 at Newlands with 49 wickets, has been declared fit. According to du Plessis, Philander is an automatic pick, which leaves South Africa with a headache since the allrounder will have to be accommodated in place of South Africa’s match winner from the first Test, Duanne Oliver, who grabbed a match-haul of 11 wickets.

Probable XI: 1 Aiden Markram, 2 Dean Elgar, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 Theunis de Bruyn, 5 Fad du Plessis (capt), 6 Temba Bavuma, 7 Quinton de Kock (wk), 8 Vernon Philander, 9 Dale Steyn 10 Keshav Maharaj, 11 Kagiso Rabada

Pakistan

Pakistan will likely see the return of their premier seamer Mohammad Abbas, who missed the first test with a shoulder injury but has been tipped to be ready for Cape Town. He has made a remarkable start to his test career with 61 wickets in 12 matches at an average of 16.62. Abbas’ return is expected to be at the expense of Afridi.

Probable XI: Imam-Ul-Haq, 2 Fakhar Zaman, 3 Shaan Masood, 4 Azhar Ali, 5 Asad Shafiq, 6 Babar Azam, 7 Sarfraz Ahmed (capt/wk), 8 Mohammad Amir, 9 Yasir Shah, 10 Hasan Ali, 11 Mohammad Abbas

Stats

– Philander’s bowling average at Newlands reads of 16.55 with 49 wickets.

– South Africa have won all three previous tests against Pakistan at Newlands and have only lost four times in 24 matches against the sub-continent side at all venues.

Quotes

“We get under pressure too quickly and it becomes mentally challenging in the second and fourth innings.” – Captain Sarfraz Ahmed on Pakistan’s batting collapse

“The headache then will be who we leave out and I will be honest, it will be difficult to leave out a guy (Olivier) who took 11 wickets in the match.” – Du Plessis on accommodating Philander