Former Proteas captain Faf du Plessis says the Pakistanis will be very dangerous opposition in their own conditions in the two-Test series which begins on Tuesday.
The 36-year-old Du Plessis scored just 27 runs in three innings against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in 2013, and earlier that year in South Africa, he made just 113 runs in four innings against the same opposition.
He admitted this weekend that mystery off-spinner Saeed Ajmal had been his bogeyman back then.
“Every time I came in to bat, Saeed Ajmal would be warming up and when I would wake up in the middle of the night then it would be Saeed Ajmal bowling to me as well!” Du Plessis said.
So who are the dangermen for the Proteas to be wary of in this Test series in Pakistan? Du Plessis identified three.
“Having Babar back will be massive for Pakistan, he’s up in the top three batsmen in the world at the moment for me. The runs he has scored in the last couple of seasons in all three formats have been nothing short of remarkable. If you take his runs out of the Pakistan team then you feel you can get on top of them. He’s the first guy we have to make sure we take care of.”
Shaheen Shah Afridi
“Afridi has obviously been hot the last two seasons and he’s a pretty dangerous bowler. I’ll be interested to see how much reverse-swing he gets in this series because the game seems to have moved a little away from reverse. The rules have become very strict and you used to be able to bounce the ball in on the rough patches a lot more. But on the sub-continent, quite often now it’s green and a bit soft next to the pitch and the ball does not scuff up as much as it used to. If it does start reversing, the batsmen need to play very late, let the ball come to you and the shot-selection needs to be as late as possible.”
“Yasir is very good at bowling in good areas over and over again. He has great control. We have to make sure we don’t let him settle, make sure we get the singles and the boundaries when the scoring opportunities present themselves. If you play and miss, it’s the same as facing seamers in South Africa, you just have to make sure you see it as a good ball and you played it well because it went past the edge. You need to be looking for scoring options to get off strike. You can’t allow a bowler like him to settle and keep bowling at one batsman.”