Abbas, Markram and other players to watch out for in Newlands Test

Waseem Ahmed 11:40 02/01/2019
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Mohammad Abbas is set to return from injury.

South Africa and Pakistan will welcome 2019 with the second Test of the three-match series which gets underway at Cape Town on Thursday.

The hosts lead 1-0 after a six-wicket win at Centurion and will be looking to clinch the series at Newlands while Pakistan have it all to do if they are to keep their hopes alive.

There will be plenty of players from both sides who will be under the spotlight at Cape Town for different reasons.

Here, we look at the three players from each side to watch out for in the second Test.

SOUTH AFRICA

Vernon Philander

Duanne Olivier’s 11-wicket display at Centurion meant the Proteas barely missed their star seamer Philander who was ruled out with a fractured thumb. Now back to full fitness, Philander should waltz into the playing XI in what is his home ground.

The 33-year-old’s record at Newlands is exceptional with the seamer picking up 49 wickets in nine previous Tests at the venue at an average of just 16.55. With his ability to move the ball both ways at will, Pakistan’s batsmen better watch out.

Philander is back at his favourite stomping ground.

Philander is back at his favourite stomping ground.

Aiden Markram

The young South African opener has already been earmarked as a future skipper after his bright start to life in international cricket. The right-hander showed his class in the infamous series win against Australia last year where he registered two centuries.

Since then, his form has tailed off badly with poor displays on the tour of Sri Lanka. He was off-colour in the series opener at Centurion, dismissed by Hasan Ali in both innings for scores of 12 and 0. The pressure will be on the 24-year-old to deliver the goods at Newlands.

Markram is struggling at the moment.

Markram is struggling at the moment.

Faf du Plessis

Another South African batsman struggling for form currently is skipper Faf du Plessis. The 34-year-old veteran bagged a pair in the Centurion win with Pakistan teenager Shaheen Afridi getting his number in both innings.

The Proteas captain has been a consistent performer with the bat over the years and will be desperate to get back to some semblance of form at Newlands.

Du Plessis will be itching to get back into form.

Du Plessis will be itching to get back into form.

PAKISTAN

Azhar Ali

The Pakistan veteran is the most experienced batsman at the disposal of the tourists but he failed to show that in a dismal outing at Centurion. While he did score 36 in the first innings, he perished for a duck in the second while attempting an ill-judged pull shot off Olivier.

The 33-year-old was one of the senior batsmen to reportedly cop an earful from coach Mickey Arthur and the pressure will be on him to bring all his years of experience to the fore at Newlands.

Azhar Ali disappointed at Centurion.

Azhar Ali disappointed at Centurion.

Mohammad Abbas

Newlands has always been a seamer’s paradise as Philander’s excellent record at the venue shows. In Abbas, Pakistan have a seamer who can more than match the excellent Philander and the 29-year-old will be the biggest threat for the opposition batsmen in what is his maiden outing in South Africa.

Now back to fitness after recovering from his shoulder injury, Abbas will relish the conditions on offer in South Africa and look to continue his sensational red-ball form so far.

Abbas could be too hot to handle on the Newlands pitch.

Abbas could be too hot to handle on the Newlands pitch.

Sarfraz Ahmed

Being in Ahmed’s shoes is an unenviable position as it gets. The Pakistan skipper’s Test captaincy has been under fire for some time and his own form with the bat hasn’t helped matters.

Just like his South African counterpart Du Plessis, the wicketkeeper-batsman bagged a pair in Newlands. With reports trickling in of a strain in his relationship with Arthur, Sarfraz is under more pressure than ever to deliver and how he goes at Newlands could very well decide his long-term Test captaincy hopes.

Sarfraz is under more pressure than ever.

Sarfraz is under more pressure than ever.

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