South Africa press for clean sweep

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South Africa will press for a clean sweep when they meet Pakistan in the third and final Test starting at SuperSport Park on Friday. After a comfortable 211-run win in the first Test in Johannesburg, South Africa were made to work hard before clinching the series with a four-wicket win in the second Test at Newlands in Cape Town. The second victory was achieved on a surface which captain Graeme Smith said did not suit his team, whose bowling attack is based on world-class fast bowlers. Centurion has traditionally favoured fast bowlers and the South Africans will feel confident they can prevail again in conditions more familiar than those in which Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal took 10 wickets in Cape Town. Coach Gary Kirsten told a South African website that the hosts wanted a pitch that was more seam friendly than Newlands. “We just don’t want a pitch that turns a lot,” he said.

Advantage South Africa

With greater batting depth and the world’s two leading fast bowlers in Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander, South Africa appear to hold most of the aces, although they will be without Morne Morkel. Pakistan hope left-arm fast bowler Junaid Khan will have recovered from a thigh injury. He was Pakistan’s most impressive bowler in the first Test, but missed the second because of injury. Given the success of Ajmal at Newlands, Pakistan may be tempted to pick a second spinner, left-armer Abdur Rehman, even if conditions are not especially favourable for spin bowlers.

In both Tests, Pakistan’s third seamer has been a weakness, with Rahat Ali and Tanvir Ahmed ineffective in Johannesburg and Cape Town respectively. Centurion has been a South African fortress, with the home side winning 13 out of 17 Tests at the ground.AFP



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