Do or die for Proteas in Dubai

2013-10-22 16:45

The equation for the second test at the Dubai Sports City is very simple: The Proteas have to win to square the series.

The second test starts at the Dubai Sports City tomorrow.

It is a position they haven’t found themselves in since 2006, where they went into the second test against Sri Lanka in Colombo with their backs to the wall.

That test at the P Saravanamuttu Oval, which Sri Lanka won by one wicket, will go down as one of the best test matches ever.

The quality of the cricket aside, the Proteas will have to bat better than they did in Abu Dhabi, where they failed to cross the 250 run barrier against a varied and disciplined Pakistan attack.

They will have to do without Hashim Amla, who has returned to South Africa to be by his pregnant wife’s side.

There are also lingering doubts about Dale Steyn’s fitness. He is said to be troubled by a right hamstring strain.

A final call will be made on his fitness on the morning of the match.

In all probability, Dean Elgar will replace Amla, who was by far South Africa’s best batsman in the first test.

It could provide the struggling Faf du Plessis with an opportunity to bat up the order as there will be a rejigging of the batting order.

Jacques Kallis will most probably move up to first drop with Du Plessis getting a rare number-four start.

One thing that might count in the Proteas’ favour is that they have had time to get to grips with the conditions, as they battled to deal with the wily Saeed Ajmal and the relentless Zulfiqar Baba.

The performances of Mohammad Irfan and Junaid Khan on the flat Abu Dhabi track could not be underestimated as they set up the Proteas batsmen for the spinners to follow.

Besides the good innings performance, the Pakistan top order was severely scrutinised in the second innings, even though they had to chase a small total.

If there ever was a lingering weakness, that would be the one the Proteas would have to exploit.

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