After thrashing the Shaheens brutally in the first two Tests, South Africa would be hoping for a clean-sweep heading into the third and final Test Match of the series to be played at the Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg.
However, injury concerns might hamper the Proteas’ chances of white-washing Pakistan 3–0. With Aiden Markram set to miss the final match of the series due to right thigh injury sustained while fielding in the Newlands Test, uncapped opener, Pieter Malan, of the Cape Cobras has been roped in. Dean Elgar is set to lead the Proteas for the second time in his career as usual captain Faf du Plessis will miss this test after he was handed a one-match suspension due to his team’s slow over-rate in the Second Test. Thus, uncapped 23-year old Zubayr Hamza is all but certain to make his Test debut.
For Pakistan, there’s nothing which seems is going right. They haven’t yet excelled in any one department in the series even though their bowling line-up consists of daunting pacers in the form of Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Aamir, and Shaheen Afridi. Apart from Shan Masood and Babar Azam, none of the other batsmen have looked in great touch although there have been individual efforts by Asad Shafiq and Sarfaraz Ahmed in certain innings.
Hence, the Third Test Match between South Africa and Pakistan will be an interesting contest, wherein Pakistan will try to prove themselves and show the world that they still belong amongst the elite group, while the home team would have a close look on their bench-strength and check whether they can still compete after the Amla’s and Du Plessis’s era.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Duanne Olivier was not expected to play in the first Test, thanks to a formidable South African pace attack that consists of Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, and Vernon Philander. However, injuries to Ngidi and Philander meant that Olivier was quickly drafted into the first test against Pakistan at Centurion. This move proved to be a hit for the Proteas as Olivier picked up 11 wickets in the first test and further five in the second test. Hence, Olivier is expected to be a vital cog for the South African team in the third test.
Much has been said about Zubayr Hamza in the South African cricketing fraternity. He has been touted the next Hashim Amla, and with him set to debut against Pakistan in the third test alongside Amla, all lenses will be on this 23-year old youngster. This game might answer the critics who are wondering what will happen next to South African Cricket once Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, and Hashim Amla retire.
Babar Azam is as much integral to Pakistan cricket as Virat Kohli is to India. Almost the entire batting-order depends upon the youngster, and if he gets set and scores run then Pakistan mostly manage to put up a decent total. In the four innings that Pakistan have played in this series, he has outperformed his compatriots in two of the innings. Thus, he will be an important component of the Pakistan batting party.
The 29-year old Kuwait born Pakistan batsman, Shan Masood has been one of a couple of batsmen who have been consistent for Pakistan in this tour. Almost bailing the Pakistan team out of humiliation of posting low totals in two of the innings, he has looked composed and settled even when the South African bowlers have looked daunting and threatening in the series. His calm and composed nature has helped him immensely to score hard-fought runs against Steyn and Co. and he will be another valuable player of the Pakistan team in the Third Test if the Shaheens are to win the game against the Proteas.
With the fiery bowling attack that South Africa possess and with the Pakistani batsmen’s inability to negate this potent threat, we expect South Africa to dominate this Test Match easily and end up winning the match and eventually the series 3–nil.