x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Pakistan aim to bounce back against South Africa in third Test

It's difficult to adjust, concedes Misbah, while his counterpart Smith wants to build on the 2-0 lead to take confidence to their next meeting in the UAE.

Misbah-ul-Haq had to receive attention on his elbow after a rising ball hit him during the first Test match at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. AFP
Misbah-ul-Haq had to receive attention on his elbow after a rising ball hit him during the first Test match at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. AFP

CENTURION, South Africa // The Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq said the visitors are expecting another tough challenge against South Africa's fast bowlers as they seek to salvage some pride in the three-match Test series.

The visitors go into today's third and final Test at SuperSport Park two-nil down after defeats in Johannesburg and Cape Town yet were determined to come away with a favourable result.

Misbah, however, said that with South African pitches the most pace-friendly in the world, they would have their work cut out.

"Wanderers and Centurion have pace and bounce. This [Centurion] pitch is hard and it might have more bounce. All over the world wickets are getting slower, even in Australia nowadays you don't find wickets like that," he said.

"It's a matter of spending time and playing more cricket, getting used to playing on these wickets. It's difficult to adjust but the more games you play here you get better and better."

Graeme Smith, the South African captain, said there would be no let-up from his team, especially because South Africa's next series is away against Pakistan in the UAE at the end of the year.

"We've got a lot of respect for Pakistan," Smith said. "They've got a really good bowling attack and they have some key performers.

"We saw in [the second Test in] Cape Town that if they perform well they can put us under pressure. This is a big Test for us considering that we are going to Abu Dhabi and Dubai where we expect the conditions to suit them a lot. We want to make an impact again and take that confidence there."

Smith said South Africa wanted to extend an outstanding record at Centurion where they have won four of their most recent five Tests by an innings.

"We get great support there and it is a ground that suits our own style of play," he said.

"There is swing for our bowlers and there is always something on offer for them. Our bowlers know how to handle those conditions extremely well."

Misbah said Pakistan needed to improve their consistency in both batting and bowling.

"In the last game when we really needed to get them out or to put some more runs on the board we missed out," he added.

Inexperience and the pressure put on his players by the South Africans had contributed to Pakistan's poor performances, he said.

The left-arm fast bowler Junaid Khan, who missed the second Test in Cape Town because of a thigh strain, remains a doubtful starter. "He's feeling better but because he has not done any practice it is very difficult to tell you right now," the team manager Naveed Cheema said.

Meanwhile, batsman Hashim Amla has stepped down as vice-captain of South Africa's one-day and Twenty20 teams, and has made himself unavailable for T20 internationals for the rest of the year.

The vice-captaincy decision follows Amla's reluctance to take over the leadership role from AB de Villiers during the ODI series against New Zealand, where he requested some time to focus on his batting.

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