After Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, South Africa are set to become the third nation to play a Test in Pakistan after a decade long hiatus. The first of these Tests will be in Karachi where Pakistan beat Sri Lanka in December 2019.
Pitch, conditions and team combination
The National Stadium in Karachi has seen only one Test in the last decade or so. That game began with some help for the bowlers as Pakistan got rolled over for 191. However, as the game progressed, the pitch flattened out to the extent that in the second innings, all four top-order Pakistan batsmen scored a century.
Pacers were the wreakers-in-chief in that Test taking 24 off the 33 wickets to fall. There are some quality options in Shaheen Shah Afridi and Kagiso Rabada but, since Pakistan have dropped Mohammed Abbas and Yasir Shah, there will be some inexperience on display as well.
However, the sample size his not enough for us to make judgements on what to expect when the Test beings on January 26th.
While you could go for the above team, you also have the option of choosing your own team from cricket.com Fantasy Research Centre. Based on algorithms we come up with six different teams that could fetch crucial points.
Babar Azam will be leading Pakistan’s Test side for the first time. Azam is Pakistan’s best batsman (even the best among both sides) in any condition. Especially at home he has been merciless. In the three Tests that happened before the pandemic, he scored 405 runs at an average of an insane 202.5. Given the added responsibility as the skipper, he is likely to make the occasion count.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Azam could score 105-158 runs in this match.
Dean Elgar was the man of the series in the recently concluded series against Sri Lanka. He averages 29.32 in Asia which is on the lower side but is still higher than all other Protea batsmen in the squad. His performance in Asia is ever-improving as he averaged 46.4 in the tour to India in 2019. He will be a good choice for the fantasy XI.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Elgar could score 70-105 runs in this match.
Keshav Maharaj can be a decent dark horse pick. Not only is he South Africa’s frontline spinner but has also shown signs of an improving lower-order batsman. Playing on tracks in India against a quality bowling unit, Maharaj averaged a decent 25.75 in their 2019 tour. With plenty of right-handers in Pakistan’s line-up, expect him to be among wickets as well.
Our Fantasy research center projects Maharaj to fetch 76-137 points in this match.
Owing to a string of low scores in away conditions, it is easy to overlook Abid Ali. But, his record at home is impeccable. In the three Tests he has played in Pakistan, he has 321 runs to his name at an average of 107. Hence, even if he has struggled against the moving ball, expect him to come good on flatter decks at home.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Abid Ali could score 53-80 runs in this match.