Pakistan vs South Africa 2nd Test Preview: Brimming with self-belief, Pakistan's spinners tipped to make it 2-0
Pakistan's confidence will be sky high after their seven-wicket victory in the first test match. Not much different is expected in this game.
Proteas' troubles against spin
South Africa cannot turn a blind eye to their troubles against spin any longer. The last time they won a test match in Asia was way back in July 2014. Since Proteas' test victory at the Galle against Sri Lanka, South Africa have played 13 test matches in the subcontinent and have not managed to win a single one of them. In fact, their defeat in the first test match against Pakistan was their 8th consecutive loss in Asia.
The biggest reason for South Africa's failure in the subcontinent is their inability to tackle spin bowling. In the first test against Pakistan, it was spin which proved to be their nemesis once again. While they lost 5 of the wickets to spin in the first innings, as many as 9 scalps were accounted for by the Pakistan spinners in South Africa's 2nd innings.
More than the dismissals, the manner of the dismissals is what is troubling for South Africa. What's worse, they don't seem to have any plan to combat it.
The team was in a good position at one point in the first test match after having won the toss and opting to bat first. At 108/2 in the 29th over, the team looked set to score at least 300, which would have been a decent total. However, as has been witnessed so many times over the recent past, the South African middle order could not stitch together enough partnerships against the spin of Yasir Shah and Nauman Ali who shared 5 wickets in the first innings itself.
South Africa suffered another collapse in their second innings, losing their last 9 wickets for just 70 runs after Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen displayed a fine show of attritional test match batting.
Pakistan paper over mistakes with quality spinners
Pakistan, on the other hand, had no clinical performance. They dug themselves into a couple of holes. However, it was courtesy of the cushion of their home conditions and the brilliance of their spinners that they were not only able to come out of those holes but win with flying colours.
The fact remains that it was not that Pakistan did not make a lot of mistakes, but that South Africa made many more mistakes than their opponents, to allow Pakistan a seven-wicket victory in the first test match.
After struggling at 27/4, Pakistan did well to come back into the match courtesy of a century from Fawad Alam - his first test century at home. Mohammad Rizwan (33) and Faheem Ashraf (64) also played crucial hands to help Pakistan take a healthy lead.
The tail then wagged for Pakistan with Hasan Ali, Nauman Ali and Yasir Shah contributing valuable 21, 24 and 38 runs respectively.
Shamsi set to replace Ngidi
Tabraiz Shamsi was all set to make the playing XI in the first test match for South Africa. In fact, he even had his name on the team sheet. It was a back spasm right before the start of play that left South Africa with no option but to draft Lungi Ngidi in the playing XI in place of Shamsi.
Ngidi did not have a great match and could pick up only two wickets while being expensive. Shamsi is expected to claim his spot in this match.
Pakistan to be unchanged
Pakistan are not expected to make any changes to their winning combination. The only change they will think about is bringing in Mohammad Nawaz in place of Faheem Ashraf to provide them an extra spinner.
However, with the pitch in Pindi known to help pacers, that is highly unlikely. Also, given the batting form that Ashraf is in, it would be very tough for Pakistan to make the change.
Here's the probable playing XI of both teams:
Pakistan - Abid Ali, Imran Butt, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam (c), Fawad Alam, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Faheem Ashraf/Mohammad Nawaz, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Nauman Ali, Shaheen Afridi
South Africa - Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen, Quinton de Kock (c & wk), Temba Bavuma, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Anrich Nortje
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