Proteas captain Quinton de Kock said on Monday that all his team’s security concerns about being in Pakistan have been allayed, but given their location on the sub-continent, they are still anxious about whether they will be playing on pitches that will massively favour spin.
The South African team had their first practice session in Karachi on Monday and De Kock said they are happy with the logistical arrangements on the Proteas’ first visit to Pakistan since 2007. Due to security concerns following terrorist attacks, South Africa played two series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates after that tour.
“Security was a big part of our concerns, but when we saw the extent and amount of security, we got a lot more comfortable,” De Kock said from Karachi on Monday.
“It looks like every corner is checked, all the bases are covered and we feel really safe. With security being less of a worry, we are able to focus more and more on the cricket. It’s something to be seen – the security measures they have taken and we’re not worried at all about that any more.
“It also helps that we didn’t need to do two weeks’ quarantine, but we play so much cricket these days that that is almost out of the picture. It’s been a big help that the Pakistan Cricket Board have let us come out and prepare early, our hotel is across the road from where we practise. Otherwise we’re only allowed in our rooms and the team room.”
The pre-tour talk about conditions in Pakistan was that they would be good batting surfaces and more pace-friendly than in the rest of the sub-continent, given the home side’s strong fast bowling resources. But the omission of pacemen Mohammad Abbas and Naseem Shah, and inclusion of six spinners, in Pakistan’s squad has the Proteas wondering.
“We don’t really know the conditions because no-one has played here before, barring one or two of our coaches,” De Kock said. “But we understand we are on the sub-continent and spin and reverse-swing will play a big part, so we’ll cover those bases in our preparation. The biggest thing is that we are dealing with the unknown, we don’t know what will happen.
“I’m sure the spinners will be a threat, that’s why they’ve chosen a couple of extra ones, which says a lot about where they want to go and how they’re going to prepare the pitches. Obviously it’s going to be a challenge. We’ve played on Asian pitches in the past and they’ve targeted us by preparing dustbowls and making it an uneven contest. But we have scored runs when conditions are decent.”
Pakistan are coming off a 2-0 series loss in New Zealand, their selectors punishing the players for not making the grade by overhauling the squad in dramatic fashion. But De Kock said Pakistan will be a totally different proposition at home.
“That result won’t count for anything, it’s difficult to bat in New Zealand and they will probably put up a much better fight in their own conditions,” the skipper said.
“Babar Azam is back, and he’s one of their main players that didn’t play at all over there. It’s going to be a good challenge for us, very different because Pakistan are a very competitive team in their own conditions.”