THE Pakistan cricket team is in South Africa to play three test matches series, five one-day internationals, and two T20 internationals. Pakistan and South Africa series will start with test matches, the first one will be played on Feb 1 at New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg.

Pakistan has played 18 test matches till now against South Africa. It has won only three test matches, seven have been drawn and eight were won by South Africa. Pakistan played the first series against South Africa in 1994/95. It was one test match series which was won by South Africa. Pakistan hosted South Africa in 1997/98, 2003/04 and 2007/08 and Pakistan won the two test-match series in 2003/04 whereas South Africa were winners in 1997/98 and 2007/08.

Pakistan and South Africa also played a series at a neutral venue (in the United Arab Emirates) in 2010/11 which was drawn. Pakistan visited South Africa after the 1994/95 series in 1997/98, 2002/03 and 2006/07. All three times we were on the losing side whereas in 1997/98 the series was drawn. Pakistan has not been able to win a series in South Africa like they have failed to win the test-match series in Australia and West Indies.

This Misbah XI has a chance to change history but it may be mentioned here that South Africa are ranked number one in the ICC Test Match Rankings. Pakistan defeated England, then the number one ranked team. However, the series was played in the UAE where Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman played the vital role.

The upcoming series will be played on fast pitches; so Pakistani fast bowlers Umar Gul, Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan will have to perform extraordinarily.

MUBASHIR MAHMOOD          Karachi

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