RAWALPINDI (Pakistan): Babar Azam expects a repeat of the first Test dry pitch when Pakistan take on South Africa in the second Test on Thursday.
Babar, Pakistan’s captain in his first Test series, needs at least a draw in the second Test to secure Pakistan’s first Test series win against South Africa in 18 years.
Pakistan’s only Test series win against the Proteas was in 2003 at home.
“We will be more focused and will try to get the result in our favor,” Babar told reporters during a virtual press conference on Wednesday.
Pakistan made a grand recovery from 27-4 through century-maker Fawad Alam in the first Test to beat the Proteas by seven wickets inside four days. On a dry wicket at Karachi, spinners Nauman Ali, who was playing in his first Test match, and Yasir Shah, an experienced leggie, shared 14 wickets in between them.
“The wicket here looks similar to the one in Karachi, except that the conditions will be much cooler,” Babar said. “There’s no need for a fourth fast bowler as the wicket looks dry.”
The Pakistan captain hinted that he didn’t see any change in the playing XI for the second Test, barring some drastic change in the conditions before the toss.
“You never know the weather in Rawalpindi, if it gets more cloudy and overcast tomorrow, then we will see,” he said.
Babar was aware that Pakistan has a great opportunity to clinch the series and said the win at Karachi has given the team enough confidence for the second Test.
“We gained a lot of confidence from the victory in the first Test, but we can’t take them lightly and we know they can bounce back,” he said.
South African top order batsmen struggled against the spin in both innings with Nauman and Shah extracting assistance from the bowlers’ rough mark from both ends.
Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen showed some resilience in the second innings and even overhauled Pakistan’s huge first innings lead of 155 before Nauman bagged his maiden five-wicket haul and Shah picked up four wickets which left Pakistan to chase only 88 runs.
South Africa opener Dean Elgar has recovered from a bruised hand while wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi could come into the side after he was ruled out at the last minute due to back spasm.
Captain Quinton de Kock had two below-par knocks, while experienced Faf du Plessis clearly struggled to negotiate the spin of Shah and could score only 23 and 10.
And de Kock knows his batsmen have to do better than the two scores of 220 and 245 at Karachi.
“We did let ourselves down in the first innings, (and) that was the point in the game where we let ourselves down the most,” de Kock had said after the first Test.
Both teams are out of the ICC World Test Championship final race at Lord’s in June. Pakistan is No. 5 while South Africa slipped to No. 6 after losing the first test.
New Zealand has already qualified for the final with England, India and Australia all in the running for the remaining spot.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Abid Ali, Imran Butt, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Saud Shakeel, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Yasir Shah, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Tabish Khan.
South Africa: Quinton de Kock (captain), Temba Bavuma, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Kagiso Rabada, Dwaine Pretorius, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Rassie van der Dussen, Anrich Nortje, Wiaan Mulder, Lutho Sipamla, Beuran Hendricks, Kyle Verreynne, Sarel Erwee, Keegan Petersen, Tabraiz Shamsi, George Linde, Daryn Dupavillon, Marco Jansen.