In a bid to draw level in the two-match Test series, South Africa take on Pakistan in the second Test at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, starting on Thursday (February 4). The hosts registered a comprehensive seven-wicket victory in the first Test at the National Stadium, Karachi. While South Africa have a superior record over Pakistan having won 15 out of the 27 matches, losing just five along the way, they will have to be at their best to beat Pakistan and level the series.
At home, Pakistan have won two and lost two against the Proteas and overall, South Africa have won four of the last five Tests against Pakistan.
Overall: Pakistan 5 wins | South Africa 15 wins | Draw 7
Last five Tests: Pakistan 1 win | South Africa 4 wins
Suggested TeamsWhile you could go for the above team, you also have the option of choosing your own team from cricket.com’s Fantasy Research Centre. Based on algorithms we come up with six different teams that could fetch crucial points.
Ground details and team combination
Since 2019, Rawalpindi has played host to two Test matches. A wicket has fallen every 38.4 runs, 72.5 balls apart. The pacers have played a huge say in this, picking up more than 77% of the wickets to fall, while the spinners have been a lesser effective, unlike in Karachi, where they ruled the roost.
The fast bowlers have struck once every 64.6 balls, 32.3 runs apart. However, the spinners have been far less effective, picking up a wicket every 100 balls, giving away 59.9 runs in between.
It might be advisable to go in for an extra seamer, but one cannot discount the role of a spinner, especially in subcontinental conditions. Hence, a couple of quality spinners is a must.
There could be some interesting match-ups too.
Two of the best players from their respective sides, the battle between Babar Azam and Kagiso Rabada could be a mouth-watering one. South Africa’s spearhead has dismissed the Pakistan captain on three out of the eight innings they have come up against each other. Interestingly, it came in three continuous Test innings – twice at SuperSport Park and once in Newlands. Babar has scored at an average of just 18.7 against Rabada and has been dismissed once every 31 deliveries.
We could be in for a great contest when Faf du Plessis comes face-to-face with Pakistan youngster Shaheen Afridi. Afridi has dismissed the former South Africa captain thrice in four innings and despite not getting the better of him in the first Test, the lanky fast bowler could bounce back in this Test. Du Plessis has scored just 31 runs at 10.8 and has given his wicket away to Afridi once every 17 deliveries so far.
Azhar Ali has been Pakistan’s most prolific scorer in Tests since 2020. He has scored a couple of fifties in his last two Tests, including a vital 51 in the first innings of the previous Test. Since 2020, Azhar has scored 499 runs – most for Pakistan - at an average of 49.90, which includes three fifty-plus scores in 12 innings. Occupying the crucial No. 3 position, Azhar will once again have to put his experience into the fore to play a crucial inning for Pakistan.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Azhar could score 78-117 runs in this match.
You could bank on Yasir Shah to get wickets almost every Test, regardless of the conditions. He picked up seven wickets in the first Test in Karachi and his team will hope that their senior spinner delivers again. He has picked up 25 wickets at 31.04 in Tests since 2020. While it could be the pacers who dominate proceedings in Rawalpindi, Yasir could be quite a handful, especially in the latter stages of the match, when there could be much more turn on offer. He picked up four wickets in the fourth innings against Bangladesh the last time he played here and Pakistan will back him to pick up more this time around.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Yasir could pick up 6-8 wickets in this match.
Anrich Nortje had to toil hard for his four wickets in Karachi, but with the conditions more likely to suit him in this match, he could be quite a handful. While often overshadowed by his compatriot Rabada, Nortje has managed to carve a name for himself and over the last few matches, he has been as threatening as Rabada if not more. The Pakistan batsmen could find it hard to negotiate him, especially early on, which could give the Proteas an early advantage.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Nortje could pick up 3-5 wickets in this match.
In his last five Test innings, Dean Elgar has scores of 95, 127, 31*, 58, and 29. He has scored a century and three fifties in six Tests he has played since 2020 and looked quite comfortable in Karachi as well, where he scored a fifty in the first innings. Given his experience, he has what it takes to negotiate the early onslaught and perhaps go on to play yet another role, that could potentially help his side level the series.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Elgar could score 77-116 runs in this match.