Sharjah - South African bowling coach Allan Donald has offered a word of caution for Misbah’s men: “Steyn had a good rest and is over his niggles. He is absolutely raring to go. He is very eager and hungry to make a huge impact in this series.”
According to the former South Africa bowling great, Dale Steyn and co are up to speed with what needs to be done on the flat, dry pitches of UAE where the “biggest test will be our mental test.” Steyn, has played 8 matches against Pakistan and picked up 39 wickets at an average 21.66. The last time Pakistan and South Africa faced off in the UAE, the two-Test series ended in a laborious 0-0 draw. The slow nature of the pitches blunted South Africa’s pace attack but did not help the Pakistani spinners either, something which the ‘hosts’ are banking on this time as well.
Donald, who had picked up 330 Test wickets and 272 wickets in ODIs, added that the challenging nature of the wickets in the Dubai and Abu Dhabi reminded him of his previous visits to Pakistan.
“Wickets like these remind me a lot of the wickets when we played in Pakistan. They are good batting decks which become good for the spinners to bowl on much later. As a quick bowler, it might be tough at times and you not only have to be gutsy but make the ball reverse too. So patience and discipline are going to be a massive factor in playing Test cricket here. This could be one of the Test series where our skill as a unit away from home will be put to test and I am going to enjoy it immensely. I feel the mental intensity is going to be a big factor.”
The South African bowling coach has already been drilling into his charges the importance of bowling yorkers, especially in such conditions, and the unit as already reviewed footage of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis in action in batsmen-friendly surfaces. “When I played in Pakistan years ago, the plan was to make the batsmen play in the first 20 overs because the ball does scuff up later.
South Africa’s plans for Pakistan are in complete contrast to what Dav Whatmore and co. have in store Graeme Smith’s team.
“Our players... want to avenge the 3-0 defeat we had at the start of the year in South Africa. We lost in South Africa because our players were not prepared for the pitches there and the pace and movement they offered,” Whatmore told reporters as his team prepared for the series.
“But conditions in UAE will be different and we know them well and they suit us. Spin tracks are an option for us and we will go by our strength and we have couple of quality spinners in our side.”
The first match of the two-Test series starts on October 14 in Abu Dhabi.