Ignore Pakistan stereotypes - Times LIVE
Mon Apr 24 01:36:44 SAST 2017

Ignore Pakistan stereotypes

Firdose Moonda | 2013-01-30 00:01:07.0

Stereotypes are born because they reflect some sort of truth. Even when that changes, the assumptions do not.

That is why you will hear a lot of fictionalised rhetoric about what to expect from Pakistan on their tour of South Africa. The old joke about how much will depend on which Pakistan shows up will be dusted off and told again. It is not funny any more but some will laugh.

The innuendo about match-fixing will simmer under any batting collapses, no-balls or dropped catches on Pakistan's part. But South Africans should not forget where one of the most crooked cricketers, Hansie Cronje, came from.

So ignore the typecasting. Whoever still believes Pakistan are unpredictable obviously has not watched them recently. Since the last time they played South Africa 18 Test matches ago in their adopted home in the United Arab Emirates, they have only lost twice.

Among their nine victories are series wins against the West Indies and New Zealand and a wiping of the floor with England.

Their losses include a series defeat to Sri Lanka when Rangana Herath outspun Saeed Ajmal. But along with Australia, they were only defeated once last year.

They lie fourth in the Test rankings, which means if the planned Test championship had happened, Pakistan would have been there. They are also the best performing sub-continental side in South African conditions.

Pakistan have won two of the nine Tests they have played here, India two of 15, Sri Lanka one of 10 and Bangladesh none.

It only took Pakistan three Tests in the country to record a win and that was in 1998. Eight years later, India won a match in South Africa on their 10th attempt. Thirteen years after Pakistan triumphed in Durban, Sri Lanka won at the same venue. It was their ninth Test in South Africa.

Adjusting to conditions has not been as tough for Pakistan because they usually bring a strong attack.

That has forced South Africa not to prepare green tops in the hope of blasting the batsmen out because they face the risk of being plucked themselves. This time is no different. In their pack is a 2.1m seamer who may make his Test debut in Mohammad Irfan, the reliable Umar Gul and exciting young left-armer Junaid Khan.

Their batting is a concern, especially after their middle order only managed one half-century between them, courtesy of captain Misbah-ul-Haq in the tour match. But they have a good mix of youth and experience that has remained consistent for almost two years.

The only changes have been a newish wicketkeeper (Sarfraz Ahmed), a youngster in good form (Nasir Jamshed) and the exclusion of the Akmal brothers.

Pakistan bring a decent package that should provide a contest.

The fans may not know it but at least Graeme Smith does. He expects a much more settled Pakistan outfit. With the Johannesburg Test being his 100th as captain, Smith has enough experience to know not to take them lightly.


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