South Africa have always been a difficult opposition but Pakistan will have the home advantage this time as they host the visitors for the first time in nearly 14 years, said head coach Misbah-ul-Haq.
Back from New Zealand after a disappointing tour which ended with a 0-2 loss in the two-Test series, Pakistan will now play two Tests against South Africa at Karachi (January 26-30) and Rawalpindi (February 4-8), followed by a three-match T20I series at Lahore, beginning from February 11.
“South Africa has never been an easy side to beat, but them playing after 13 years in Pakistan will be an advantage for us, and we have a great chance to improve our record against them,” Misbah said.
He said the two Test matches are part of the ICC World Championship and are very important for the home side which will try to get maximum points out of it to improve their position on the table.
“Playing at home ground is always encouraging for the players, and it reflected in our performances in the series against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh last year,” Misbah said.
Pakistan won Tests against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in late 2019 and early 2020 at home but have lost successive away Test tours to Australia, England and New Zealand leading to a criticism of the team’s performances and selection policies with Misbah under-fire.
Following their dismal tour of New Zealand, Pakistan’s new chief selector Muhammad Wasim named nine uncapped players in a revamped 20-member squad for the test series against South Africa.
“The series against South Africa is an important one, and I am sure the players selected in the squad have the potential and hunger to give best results in the series,” Misbah said.
The South African cricket team, which last toured Pakistan in late 2007, arrived in Karachi on Saturday.
The visiting team’s head coach Mark Boucher cautioned his team, saying his batsmen will face a tough task against a “dangerous” side like Pakistan.
“Pakistan is a dangerous side at home; we will have to come up with a proper strategy to beat them at their own backyard,” the former wicket-keeper said.
“The wickets here in Pakistan are batting friendly, and we are relying on our batsmen to score runs. Their confidence will be high after scoring runs against Sri Lanka. Our fast bowlers will have to work very hard to get wickets.”
South Africa had drawn the two-Test series in 2010 and 2013 when Pakistan had hosted them in the United Arab Emirates, following a terrorists attacked on the Sri Lankan team bus at Lahore in 2009.
“Pakistan bowlers will have home advantage, so this series will be a test for our batsmen, but once they are successful in occupying the crease, they will be able to score freely,” Boucher said.
“We are excited to play in Pakistan again, and expect a great series ahead with all focus on the game.”
South Africa had won the two-Test series 1-0 during their last tour of Pakistan in 2007.
The visitors have been boosted by the return of top fast bowler, Kagiso Rabada from injuries and he picked up 17 wickets in the last series between the two sides at 18.70.
The last Test between the both sides was in January 2019 in Johannesburg which the home team won by 107 runs.
South Africa squad: Quinton de Kock (C), 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.