Pakistan will resist the urge to experiment with their side in the third and final Test against South Africa at Centurion starting today, according to captain Misbahul Haq.
The Proteas have already clinched the three-match series after winning the first two Tests in Johannesburg and Cape Town but Pakistan will not use the opportunity of the dead-rubber third match to give others in the squad a game.
“I think we need to play our best side; every game is important at Test level,” said Misbah. “We still have to have our selection meeting but I don’t think too much will change (from Cape Town).”
Misbah said the team were still not sure whether seamer Junaid Khan, who missed the second Test with a thigh injury, would be fit to return.
The addition of Junaid, probably in place of Tanvir Ahmed, would be welcome on a Centurion pitch that looks to have plenty of pace and bounce. Misbah agreed with Proteas coach Gary Kirsten that South African pitches were the hardest to bat on in world cricket.
“From my own experience I would have to agree with that. South African pitches have more pace and bounce, while in the rest of the world the wickets are getting slower. Even in Australia you don’t get the same bounce.”
South Africa won the first Test at the Wanderers by 211 runs, following that up with a four-wicket victory at Newlands.
South Africa eager for
Meanwhile, the home team will press for a clean sweep when they meet Pakistan in the third and final Test.
The second Test victory was achieved on a surface which captain Graeme Smith said did not suit his team, whose bowling attack is based on world-class fast-bowlers.
Centurion has traditionally favoured fast-bowlers and the South Africans will feel confident they can prevail again in conditions more familiar than those in which Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal took 10 wickets in Cape Town.
Smith denied his side would let their intensity drop with the series already won, suggesting they wanted to strike a psychological blow ahead of a series against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi later this year.
“It’s our last Test of what has been a long but successful year,” said Smith. “There has been no difference in the way we have approached the game. It has been a quick turnaround, so to stay mentally fresh and sharp in the game will be the challenge. We are a process-driven team and we attack all challenges the same each time.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2013.