The Proteas challenge

Nigah Muhammad

The writer is a reporter and journalist.

Pakistan’s cricket team has often performed poorly on foreign grounds. Except for the 1992 World Cup which is now a distant memory, the team has failed to adapt easily to pitch conditions abroad. The recent dismal performance in New Zealand has added another shameful chapter in our cricketing record after Pakistan faced a humiliating whitewash in the Test series.

Pakistani batsmen made their best efforts during the first Test match to avoid defeat but victory eluded them as the team collapsed on the final day. The Kiwis struck the Shaheens who failed to bounce back even in the second Test. Pakistan suffered a punishing defeat of an innings and 176 runs which pushed the team to a disappointing seventh rank just above West Indies, Bangladesh and novice Afghanistan.

The irony is that Pakistan has never pondered on the reasons for its dismal performance overseas and this has become the team’s persistent weakness. Pakistan was known for its fearsome bowlers who struck fear among batsmen with their powerful deliveries. But the team has been historically weak in the field and all efforts including appointing new coaches have been made to no avail. It was evident in New Zealand where the players dropped simple catches and misfields were common.

Pakistan is now back on its own turf and has performed stronger at home. The next challenge will be soon as South Africa is set to arrive for a series starting January 26.

The Proteas are ranked number five and will be coming after defeating Sri Lanka in powerful performances. Let see how we perform against South Africa as we are definitely a stronger team as compared to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Pakistan has another advantage as South Africa has never turned the tables during a major tournament or convert victory into defeat and is inconsistent and unreliable. Nevertheless, South Africa remains a strong team now being coached by the enigmatic Mark Boucher and will surely challenge Pakistan despite the home ground advantage.

Both teams will have to adjust to different pitch conditions and weather. While one team is returning after facing a whitewash, another is coming after handing a clean sweep. Pakistan will be a much different team when it faces South Africa. It is necessary that the team players are selected based on their performances to get the desired results and not repeat the debacle in New Zealand.

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