South Africa and Pakistan conclude their ongoing Test series on Friday when the two sides meet for the third and final time in Johannesburg, with bragging rights and a bit of confidence heading into the ODI series all that is on the line.
That is because the Proteas secured the series with another facile victory in Cape Town last week. Pakistan are a proud bunch who will be eager to avoid a whitewash but continue to fail in the big moments.
You would be fibbing if you said that it had been plain sailing for South Africa in this series. The overall scoreline would suggest that is the case but they were bang up against it in the first match and there was a period in the second game where they were beginning to wobble a touch as well. The main thing is that they came through on both occasions and can ease up a touch here if they wish.
The positive for them in Cape Town was that they showed some depth with the bat because that has been their issue in recent times. That depth allowed them to put up a big first innings score and Test matches can be controlled when you do that, especially when you have the quality in the bowling department that South Africa have.
This series always looked like a tough ask for Pakistan because of the brittle nature of their batting line up and that is exactly how it has proved. In four innings in the series they have only passed 200 once and you simply don’t win Test matches with that sort of record. It is actually to their credit that they have been as competitive as they have given their lack of runs.
That has been because their bowling attack has shown the quality it has got. Ultimately they were deflated with their lack of first innings runs in Cape Town and their bowlers didn’t really have a chance but even then they were only one wicket away from staying in the game. With no pressure on this one they will be hoping their batsmen can come to the party.
South Africa will be without their captain Faf du Plessis in this match as he has been suspended for poor over rate offenses. Dean Elgar will lead the side with Zubayr Hamza expected to be the man to come in for him.
Pakistan are expected to bring Faheem Ashraf into their side to lengthen their batting a little bit. Shadab Khan could also come in for the same reason with Yasir Shah potentially making way to accommodate him.
This will be Test match number 40 to be held at The Wanderers with South Africa having featured in all of the previous 39 games. The only have 16 wins here though with 12 defeats and a pretty large looking 11 draws. Pakistan have a draw and a pair of defeats to their name on this ground and will be eyeing up a first victory.
Scores here can be a little hit and miss. On clear days this is as good a place as any to bat but when the atmospheric conditions turn the ball does plenty and the bowlers come to the party. Seeing off the new ball is essential and then runs can come along but based on what we’ve seen in the series to date it would make sense to expect the bowlers to dominate here.
I might have been a match too soon to take Mohammad Abbas and his performance but just in case I was I’m going to take it again especially in these conditions which should suit him down to the ground. South Africa are not likely to be as strong with the bat while Pakistan are expected to lengthen their batting line up which means Abbas might be bowling more overs.
He has had a run out to get any rust out of his system and with that in mind I’m expecting him to deliver a very strong performance. If that is the case then I envisage him not just threatening a 99.5 line but covering it comfortably. Seamers tend to rule the roost around these parts and Abbas is Pakistan’s best. I’ll take the over again.
WON – Back M.Abbas’ Performance – Over 99.5pts for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365