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Saturday Jan 23 2021

Pak vs SA: Faf du Plessis says he expects a 'very tough' Pakistani side

South Africa batsman Faf du Plessis. — AFP/File

KARACHI: Senior South Africa batsman Faf du Plessis says he expects Pakistan to be a "very, very tough side on its home soil" during the upcoming two-match Test series which starts on Tuesday.

Talking to the media through an online press conference, du Plessis said that South Africa’s past record against Pakistan won’t come into account when both the sides, which according to him are similarly placed, will take on each other.

“No, I think that's a very long time ago, and a very different team,” he responded, when asked if the results of South Africa’s last tour to Pakistan give them any confidence boost ahead of the series.

“I think both South Africa and Pakistan are probably similarly placed where they are in terms of the teams. Quite a lot of inexperience, and not a lot of Test caps within the team. I think we expecting it to be a very, very tough ask against Pakistan, they are a very dangerous team in their home conditions,” the 36-year-old batsman said.

He added that he has always heard that Pakistan is one of the best places to come and bat, where a team can score big runs and hoped that the same is the case again this time around.

But he was quick to mention that things may not be as they used to be in Pakistan.

“I'm expecting it to be a little bit different. Maybe (the ball may) just spin a little bit earlier than it used to back then,” he said.

Preparation against Pakistan

The veteran of 67 Tests said that not knowing too much about Pakistan’s condition is a challenge as everyone would be playing Test cricket in Pakistan for the first time but said that his side has prepared well for anything and everything.

“We've kind of as a team, tried to prepare for everything and anything, prepared for spin conditions, reverse swing ball, and then obviously an element of what it looked like 13/14 years ago when it was good wickets and was flat as well. So, we've tried to do as best as we can. I think that wickets will be a bit more subcontinent like, than they used to be back then. So, spinners would probably be more a little bit more in the game,” he said.

Talking about his own performance, Faf du Plessis said that he hasn’t played too many Tests against Pakistan and agreed that previously he faced challenges against a quality spinner like Saeed Ajmal.

“I'm batting well at the moment, I'm feeling good. And I just I just really want to play my best cricket. You know, I'm really excited for this tour. I have worked hard, and I'm looking forward to playing. I want to also put in some good performances in the subcontinent. It's really important for me as a batsman to do well overseas,” he said.

Challenges from Pakistani players

The experienced South African batsman said that the return of Babar Azam will give massive confidence to the Pakistan team and along with Babar, Shaheen Shah Afridi can also pose a threat to South Africans in the series.

“I think Babar coming-back is massive for them. I would say he's up there with probably the top three batsmen in the world at the moment. His last two seasons in all formats has been nothing short of remarkable.

"His injury has proven that if you take his runs out of the team, it becomes a team that you feel like you can get on top of pretty easily. So, with him back, it will give the rest of the batting lineup and also their team a lot of confidence.

So, he will be the first guy from batting point of view that we need to make sure we take care of and then from bowling perspective, Afridi has obviously been hot in the last two seasons as well. He's been getting a lot of wickets. So, probably someone like him would be pretty dangerous,” he said about the challenge Pakistani players could pose to the Proteas.

Spending time under a bio-secure bubble

Talking about life in a bio-secure bubble, Faf du Plessis said that it is become difficult for players and the idea to continue it for longer doesn’t look sustainable.

“I think there would definitely come a point where players would struggle with this. I think some players would cope with it a little bit better, some players might hide it a little bit better. But the back to back bubbles is where the real challenges lie,” said du Plessis.

“You're looking at about four or five months in a bubble, which is a lot. It can get challenging right now. I don't think it is possible to continue from bubble to bubble to bubble. I've seen and heard a lot of players talk about it. I don't think it's sustainable.

"So we understand that this is tough, a very tough season and a tough challenge for a lot of a lot of people out there so we're very grateful just to be playing but if it is back to back to back, the bubble thing would be become a big challenge,” he concluded by saying.