Pakistan Can Surprise South Africa - Zaheer Abbas
Former Pakistan batsman Zaheer Abbas believes Pakistan could surprise their hosts South Africa during their three-match Test series in February.
Pakistan get the tour underway on Friday (25th January) with a four-day match before playing the Proteas in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Centurion.
Speaking to www.pakpassion.net, Abbas says it is crucial that Pakistan adapt to conditions quickly if they are to have any chance of upsetting the world's top-ranked side.
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"The Test series will undoubtedly be a very difficult one for the Pakistani batsmen due to the conditions being unfamiliar and they are going to have to adjust very quickly to the extra bounce available to the bowlers in South Africa," he said.
"It's all about the Pakistani top order applying themselves and ensuring they give the talented Pakistani bowling line up enough runs to defend. The South Africans will look to apply pressure on the Pakistanis and Misbah and his team need to be able to cope with that pressure."
The ability to adjust to conditions becomes even more important as Pakistan have just the one warm-up match scheduled - not enough in the eyes of Abbas, who played 78 Tests for his country between 1969 and 1985.
"One four-day match before the opening Test match is definitely not enough particularly given the conditions are totally different to Pakistan and also given that Pakistan has not played any Test cricket for several months," he said.
"They should have played at least two or three warm up matches ahead of the opening Test match and going into the opening Test with such little preparation will be a tough ask for the Pakistani batsmen."
The Pakistan batsmen will face a huge test of their skills with South Africa able to call on Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander - arguably the best three-pronged pace attack in the world.
"The bowling trio of Steyn, Morkel and Philander are phenomenal. The South Africans have a very well balanced and aggressive bowling attack which offers the batsmen very few easy runs," Abbas added.
"One of the most important aspects is for the Pakistanis not to go into their shells when at the crease, yes occupy the crease, make sure you bat for long periods and try to grind down the opposition bowlers, but also don’t be overcautious, be positive and play your shots when the opportunity arises.
"The Pakistanis need to ensure that every scoring opportunity is taken, if they go into their shells that will spell trouble.
"The key will be knowing which balls to leave out there in South Africa and whether you are going to play the hook shot or not. The Pakistanis will be tested thoroughly by an experienced South African pace bowling attack who will bowl a lot of bouncers at them.
"The challenge for each of the Pakistanis is to decide on their approach against the short ball and stick to that approach. If the Pakistanis are hesitant and caught in two minds regarding short pitched bowling they will struggle.
"My advice would be for each of the Pakistani batsmen to formulate a plan ahead of the Test series and stick with that plan, do not chop and change your approach."
Finally, Abbas threw his full support behind the team and is hopeful they will do him proud.
"If Pakistan plays to the levels they are capable of then they can surprise South Africa, but the batsmen have to put the big scores on the board. The Pakistan team is one of the best Test sides in the world and I’m hopeful that Pakistan can perform well in South Africa."
© Cricket World 2013
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