CAPE TOWN: Pakistan eye a comeback against South Africa in the second Test that starts on what is likely to be a lively Newlands wicket on Thursday.
South Africa won the first Test in Pretoria by six wickets inside eight sessions as both bowling attacks found conditions to their liking with seam movement, and at times steep bounce.
But it was the hosts’ ability to eke out runs on the challenging wicket that proved the difference as Pakistan’s frail batting line-up withered in the face of quality fast bowling.
Pakistan will be bolstered by the return of pacer 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.
South Africa will see the expected return from injury of seamer Vernon Philander, who has 49 wickets at an average of 16.55 at Newlands. Captain Faf du Plessis said on Wednesday that fast bowler Duanne Olivier would be used in an “enforcer” role as part of a pace barrage.
There had been speculation that Olivier might have to sit out at Newlands because of the return to fitness of Philander.
Du Plessis said he wanted to keep the pressure on the Pakistan batsmen after Olivier took 11 wickets in South Africa´s six-wicket win in the first Test in Centurion.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed, speaking to media on Wednesday, said Haris Sohail had not recovered from a knee injury that kept him out of the first Test and was unlikely to play again in the series. He said Pakistan would keep the same batting line-up that played in Centurion.
Sarfraz admitted there were big challenges for his batsmen on fast, bouncy pitches. “We are used to playing on low bouncing pitches. But our players are good enough and they have been working hard in the nets and talking to the batting coach.”
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.