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|Theunis de Bruyn||10||15||2||0||66.67|
|Faf du Plessis||0||6||0||0||0.00|
|Theunis de Bruyn||29||71||3||1||40.85|
|Faf du Plessis||0||1||0||0||0.00|
|Quinton de Kock||45||53||5||0||84.91|
It's going to be a busy Boxing Day for cricket fans across the globe with as many as three test matches to commence on the day along with many domestic T20 competitions. Along with the India - Australia and New Zealand - Sri Lanka clash, we have Pakistan taking on the Proteas at Centurion in the first of the three-match test series. Pakistan haven't played away from UAE in a while and while their pace bowlers will enjoy bowling on bouncy South African tracks, it will be interesting to see how their batsmen fare in this tour.
It's been a long time since their star batsman, AB de Villiers retired from Cricket, but the Proteas are still searching for the perfect combination as far as their batting is concerned. Temba Bavuma and Theunis De Bruyn have done well in the middle order, but there are doubts about South Africa's batting ability and whether they'll be able to dominate a skilled Pakistani bowling attack.
Although there are a few question marks about South African batting lineup, their bowling appears to be lethal despite the absence of Vernon Philander and Lungi Ngidi. Philander will sit out for the first match of the series due to a fractured thumb. Paterson has been called up as his replacement but is unlikely to play with the likes of Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, and Duanne Olivier around. Keshav Maharaj will shoulder the load of spin bowling though he might not have much to do in the first innings if the Proteas happen to bowl first.
South Africa have an unsettled middle-order, but there is no shortage of talent in their batting lineup. They have an aggressive option of Quinton de Kock at number seven with Steyn and Rabada to follow. They bat deep and will take some effort to get completely dislodged. South Africa have had issues in batting against quality spin attack, but playing at home should nullify that issue up to some extent.
Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla, and Dean Elgar will be key players with the bat for the hosts. Quite surprisingly, Aiden Markram has been Proteas' top scorer over the year. However, his vulnerabilities against the spinners were highlighted when India toured South Africa which will be something Pakistan will be looking to exploit.
Hashim Amla, on the other hand, has had a dismal last year. He's averaged just around 23, but his record at this venue will be something Pakistan will have to be wary of. He's scored four half-centuries and the same number of tons here and will certainly draw confidence from his previous record here.
All in all, this South African lineup isn't as good as they used to be and there are doubts about how they'll fare against the talented Pakistan attack. With Rabada, Maharaj, and Steyn available, they have a well-rounded bowling attack which will be difficult to deal with in conducive conditions.
Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, K Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, DW Steyn, Duanne Olivier.
Pakistan got off to a perfect start on this tour as they registered a dominating win in their warm-up match against Invitational XI. Azhar Ali and Babar Azam were the picks of their batsmen as they looked composed and settled in alien conditions. Haris Sohail and Imam Ul Haq contributed with a half-century each in the second innings whereas Azhar Ali and Babar Azam both scored a hundred in the first innings of the match.
Pakistan will draw confidence from their performance in the warm-up match, but it is an altogether different ball game in the test cricket. Also, their recent defeat to New Zealand at home embossed out the vulnerabilities with their batting lineup which are likely to be exploited by the Proteas as well.
Pakistan have always been known for their powerful bowling attack and it is no different this time as well. Mohammad Abbas, currently placed at number four in ICC test rankings, will be the biggest threat for the Proteas. However, he did not play in Pakistan's final test against the Kiwis and there is still uncertainty over his fitness.
Yasir Shah played a vital role in Pakistan's solitary win over New Zealand back in UAE, but the conditions in South Africa will be a lot different and it will be interesting to see how much he gets to bowl if Pakistan fields first. He bowled 11 overs in the warm-up match and wasn't particularly effective. He conceded 45 runs, at an economy of more than four runs an over, in his eleven overs.
In the recent games, toss has played a crucial role in Pakistan's success and it was apparent against Kiwis as well. Pakistan have a fiery bowling lineup which can deliver even on the dullest of surfaces as well. Acclimatizing with the conditions quickly could be an issue for them and if they can do that, the Proteas will have their work cut out.
Imam-ul-Haq, F Zaman, Azhar Ali, Shan Masood, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Amir, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi.
Toss has carried massive importance in recent times at this venue. Six of the last seven matches have been won by the teams batting first and it will be difficult for any teams to decide against this statistic after winning the toss. Win the toss and bat first will be the way to go at Centurion.
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
It's likely to stay warm and sunny on the first two days of this test match, but there are chances of showers on the subsequent days. Batting generally gets difficult as the game progresses and low fourth innings totals in the last five games validate that fact. Average first innings total in the last five matches here is 448 and the team batting first will be looking to put at least a total of 400 runs on the board.
South Africa last played test cricket back in July, against Sri Lanka, where they faced two towering defeats from the Islanders. Post that, however, they've had terrific run in the limited-overs cricket which should imbibe some confidence into the team. Pakistan, on the other hand, lost to New Zealand in the recently concluded series. They've however been very competitive in the matches they've played of late. Their batsmen might find it a little difficult to adjust to South Africa's alien conditions against a world-class fast bowling attack. South Africa bat deep and have a well-balanced lineup which makes them better placed to emerge on top in the upcoming contest.
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