“Can Pakistan’s batsmen bat against the best seam attack in the world?” That is the burning question for most Pakistan fans and one that former England batsman and pundit Geoffrey Boycott thinks could be the decisive factor as far as Misbah-ul-Haq’s men are concerned.
According to him, South Africa’s pace attack, which includes the likes of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel will be the biggest difference between the two sides. And while Pakistan too have a world-class bowling line, Boycott believes there was a big gap between the quality of South Africa and the tourists’ batsmen.
“The South African batsmen are good - there’s Kallis, Amla, Smith, there’s AB de Villiers, who is a fabulous player as well, but it is not that that would worry me if I was Pakistan.
“Can Pakistan’s batsmen bat against the best seam attack in the world? They are definitely going to come at Pakistan really strong.
“Morne Morkel is bowling well, Dale Steyn is the best in the world, and (Vernon Philander) who is injured at the moment picks up wickets every time he bowls, doesn’t he? South Africa’s bowling is the best in the world by far. Philander would be a crackerjack bowler in any era, any period, any team, let me tell you. The others aren’t behind – they are very good indeed, so I put my money on South Africa.”
Boycott said he admired Pakistan for their fighting spirit despite the hardships they faced but repeated that South Africa, where they are yet to win a Test series, will be a challenge.
Pakistan play a warm-up match against a South African Invitation XI in East London, starting January 25, before facing-off against Graeme Smith’s top-ranked side in the first Test at the Wanderers on February 1.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s bowling coach, Mohammad Akram, said his side would be taking the practice game very seriously and looking to play ‘hard’ cricket on the tour.
“We are taking this game very seriously,” Akram said.
“Our team is a good mix of youth and senior players. We’ll be focusing hard for the Tests against the No 1 team in the world, South Africa, and playing good, hard cricket.”