South Africa set to play Test in Pakistan after 14 years

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Karachi: South Africa have always been a difficult opposition but Pakistan will have the home advantage this time as they host the visitors for the first time in nearly 14 years, said head coach Misbah-ul-Haq.

Back from New Zealand after a disappointing tour which ended with a 0-2 loss in the two-Test series, Pakistan will now play two Tests against South Africa at Karachi (January 26-30) and Rawalpindi (February 4-8), followed by a three-match T20I series at Lahore, beginning from February 11.

“South Africa has never been an easy side to beat, but them playing after 13 years in Pakistan will be an advantage for us, and we have a great chance to improve our record against them,” Misbah said.

He said the two Test matches are part of the ICC World Championship and are very important for the home side which will try to get maximum points out of it to improve their position on the table.

“Playing at home ground is always encouraging for the players, and it reflected in our performances in the series against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh last year,” Misbah said.

“The series against South Africa is an important one, and I am sure the players selected in the squad have the potential and hunger to give best results in the series,” Misbah said.

The South African cricket team, which last toured Pakistan in late 2007, arrived in Karachi on Saturday.

The visiting team’s head coach Mark Boucher cautioned his team, saying his batsmen will face a tough task against a “dangerous” side like Pakistan.

“Pakistan is a dangerous side at home; we will have to come up with a proper strategy to beat them at their own backyard,” the former wicket-keeper said.

“Pakistan bowlers will have home advantage, so this series will be a test for our batsmen, but once they are successful in occupying the crease, they will be able to score freely,” Boucher said.

“We are excited to play in Pakistan again, and expect a great series ahead with all focus on the game.”

South Africa had won the two-Test series 1-0 during their last tour of Pakistan in 2007.

The visitors have been boosted by the return of top fast bowler, Kagiso Rabada from injuries and he picked up 17 wickets in the last series between the two sides at 18.70.

The last Test between the both sides was in January 2019 in Johannesburg which the home team won by 107 runs.

Aleem, Ahsan to stand in SA Tests

KARACHI: Aleem Dar will officiate in his first-ever Test at home, while Ahsan Raza and Mohammad Javed Malik will also make their Test debuts as the Pakistan Cricket Board, on behalf of the International Cricket Council, on Saturday confirmed match officials’ appointments for the two-match series.

Elite panelist Aleem has umpired in a record 132 Tests since making his debut in 2003 in Dhaka, while Ahsan — part of the ICC international panel — has umpired in 37 ODIs and 57 T20Is. Javed Malik, a former first-class cricketer and a member of the ICC’s international panel, has refereed in 10 ODIs and six T20Is.

Asif Yaqoob and Rashid Riaz will be the third and fourth umpires, respectively, while Javed will lead the playing control team for both the Tests.

As per the ICC’s interim playing regulations, the requirement to appoint third country officials has temporarily been removed from the playing conditions for all international formats owing to the current logistical challenges with international travel. The ICC, however, continues to appoint locally based match officials from the ICC Elite Panel of Match Officials and the ICC International Panel of Match Officials.

For the three-match T20I series, Javed will carry on as the match referee, while Aleem and Ahsan will be the on-field umpires for the first match with Shozab Raza acting as TV umpire and Asif as fourth umpire.

Shozab and Asif will stand in the second T20I with Ahsan and Rashid as third and fourth umpires, respectively, while Aleem and Rashid will be the on-field umpires for the third T20I with Ahsan and Shozab as third and fourth umpires, respectively.

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