Johannesburg: On the verge of a series whitewash against hosts South Africa, Pakistan to face a daunting task at hand with the third and final Test of the series being played at the iconic Wanderers stadium in Johannesburg, which has earned the title “Bullring’ due to the intimidating atmosphere that the visiting teams are usually subjected to.
This opens up an opportunity for Pakistan to secure their only third win on South African soil with their team, especially the batting, starting to look in better shape after adapting to the conditions.
The touring party failed to cross the 200-run mark in their first three innings but left a strong impression in the fourth as fifties by Shan Masood, Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam in Cape Town not only saw their side post 291 runs on the board but also made the South African pace battery toil for wickets.
But as it is often the case with a Pakistani camp on away tours, all is not rosy after their captain claimed that his fast bowlers did not bowl up to the mark. According to some reports coming out of the dressing room, it left the pacers distressed.
Despite South Africa already having won the series, there’s still a lot for Pakistan that can be achieved at the Wanderers. They have never won a Test at the venue. And with a five-match ODI series to follow after the Tests, a win is certain to lift the team’s morale.
South Africa: Dean Elgar will lead the home side in the absence of du Plessis. Cape Cobras’ one-drop Zubayr Hamza is set to make his Test debut. He is likely to be slotted at the number six position. Faf’s suspension provides out-of-form Theunis de Bruyn with another opportunity to make a mark for himself at the Test level. The 26-year-old has scored only 56 runs across four innings. Since his debut in March 2017, de Bruyn has averaged a paltry 19.33.
The home side have also called up an uncapped opener Pieter Malan as a possible replacement for Aiden Markram. After scoring a fighting 78, which was 26 runs more than he had scored in his last three Tests, in the first innings of the second Test, the right-hander did not join Elgar as an opener in the second innings as he nursed a thigh problem. Markram will face a late fitness test.
Probable XI: Dean Elgar (C), Aiden Markram/Pieter Malan, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Zubayr Hamza, Quinton de Kock, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Duanne Olivier, Kagiso Rabada
Pakistan: There aren’t any injury concerns in the Pakistani camp. In fact, for the first time on the tour, Pakistan have all of their men available for selection. The visitors are finally contemplating playing four seamers in conditions that favour pace bowlers. Shadab and Fahim, who’ll replace out of form Fakhar Zaman, at number seven and eight will be providing Pakistan options lower down the order apart from giving them the five-bowler cushion.
Probable XI: Imam ul Haq, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed (C & WK), Shadab Khan, Fahim Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali/Shaheen Afridi