Number one Test side South Africa go into the second Test against Pakistan in Dubai in the rare position of trying to square the series, after losing the first game by seven wickets in Abu Dhabi. The Proteas haven’t lost a Test series since 2009 (against Australia), and before the Abu Dhabi surprise, hadn’t lost a Test since early 2012, when they dropped one to Sri Lanka but still took the series two-one. Now the visitors must move on from that defeat, comprehensive as it was, and must do so without star batsman Hashim Amla. The Mighty # is in South Africa awaiting the birth of his child, and it has been confirmed he will not fly back in time for the game.
This is worrying for the Proteas in that he made a century in Abu Dhabi while most of the top order failed. Veterans Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis were noticeably short of match practice and failed to impress, while Alviro Petersen also fell cheaply twice. Amla’s replacement is likely to be Dean Elgar, who has played six Tests and averages 32. His last four Test knocks failed to reach 30 though, and the pressure will be on him in Amla’s absence, unless Thami Tsolekile gets a shock call-up. The Proteas also have to worry about the fitness of premier fast bowler Dale Steyn, who picked up a hamstring niggle during training and missed out in the nets on Monday. He will have a late fitness test on Wednesday morning. Rory Kleinveldt will likely replace him if required.
As for Pakistan, Abu Dhabi was only their second win in their past nine Tests, and it was a welcome balm after losing to the Proteas three-nil earlier this year. Their new batsmen at the top of the order, Shan Masood and Khurram Manzoor, did superbly, and the absence of Mohammad Hafeez was hardly felt. Their line-up is unlikely to change, given their success with bat and ball, even though Dubai could give more help to the Proteas’ fast bowlers. Pakistan will still look to Saeed Ajmal for the wickets, after he took six in the first Test. The sides haven’t only played each other here once, and it was a draw, while Pakistan have never lost here. The Proteas will need to come out all guns blazing, and we’ll predict that they will do so successfully, but not by a big margin. They’ve had enough time to settle in now, so they will want to prove their ranking correct and level the series.
Match Timings: Oct 23-27, 2013 (10:00 local | 06:00 GMT | 11:30 IST)
South Africa: 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Alviro Petersen, 3 Dean Elgar, 4 Jacques Kallis, 5 AB de Villiers (wk), 6 JP Duminy, 7 Faf du Plessis, 8 Robin Peterson/Imran Tahir, 9 Vernon Philander, 10 Dale Steyn/Rory Kleinveldt, 11 Morne Morkel.
Pakistan: 1 Shan Masood, 2 Khurram Manzoor, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Asad Shafiq, 7 Adnan Akmal (wk), 8 Saeed Ajmal, 9 Zulfiqar Babar, 10 Junaid Khan, 11 Mohammad Irfan.