South Africa expect ‘grafting’ pitch

South Africa expect ‘grafting’ pitch

Cape Town: South Africa expect to have to put in more work with the bat than they have done in the home season so far in the second Test against Pakistan in Cape Town.

Hot weather in the build-up to the match has left the surface dry and set up what Allan Donald called a “grafting wicket,” for what could turn out to be the bowlers’ first challenge of the summer. None of the three Tests played so far have gone the distance largely because South Africa’s attack has cleaned up opposition cheaply. This time though, they may not have conditions to facilitate that.

“It’s not quite a 49 all out pitch,” Alviro Petersen, South Africa’s opening batsman said after examining the Newlands strip. Although there was rain in the city over the weekend and some is expected on Wednesday, neither Donald nor Petersen thinks the nature of the pitch will change too much and both expect a “good Test wicket,” that will provide a more balanced contest. Pakistan will benefit from that.

“If there is one ground where they can bounce back its Newlands,” Petersen said. Not only will it be gentler in terms of pace and bounce, it is the surface most likely to provide something for the spinners although South Africa are mindful to keep that to a minimum. “We don’t want to bring their spinners into it at all,” Donald said. What it means for South Africa is that more responsibility will fall on the batting line-up than at any other time in the home season.

They showed they were ready to front up in the first Test when Graeme Smith chose to bat in tricky circumstances at the Wanderers with a lot of swing on offer. Their total of 253 appeared below-par and probably was until the bowlers inflated it by dismissing Pakistan 49. “Our bowlers deserve all the praise they are getting because they have often got us of tight situations,” Petersen said. – PT