Pakistan must exploit a glaring weakness in the South Africa team if they are to win the upcoming Test series between the two nations.
The Green Shirts and the Proteas are set to do battle in a two-match series which starts on 26 January in Karachi, before the two squads move to Rawalpindi for the second Test.
South Africa will travel full of confidence after their recent 2-0 victory over Sri Lanka on home soil, while Pakistan’s 2-0 reverse in New Zealand may have damaged morale.
Pakistan must exploit South Africa batting weaknesses
However, Babar Azam’s side are a different entity in home conditions and South Africa have a big weakness to exploit.
To an extent, their bowling unit has recovered from the retirements of Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn, and Kagiso Rabada is back available for this series.
Yet, their batting lineup remains fragile and in places, inexperienced.
Against Sri Lanka, the bulk of the runs came from three players: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram and Faf du Plessis.
The trio are established performers in the Test arena who thrived on good pitches against what was, at times, mediocre bowling.
Quinton de Kock is also a high-class player, but he only scored 28 runs across two innings in that series and is perhaps still getting used to balancing captaincy with individual performance.
Elsewhere in the batting lineup, though, there are players for Pakistan to target.
Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma and Wiaan Mulder batted at three, six and seven respectively in the Sri Lanka series and they have only one Test century between them.
Bavuma is the lone centurion, but as a specialist batsman with 42 Test appearances to his name, he is underachieving.
The diminutive right-hander averages under 30 in away Tests compared to 33.16 at home, too, suggesting he’s less comfortable against spin than pace. [Howstat].
Neither van der Dussen nor Mulder have featured on a Test tour before and both still have work to do to cement their spots in the team.
van der Dussen looked a little vulnerable outside off-stump against Sri Lanka, while Mulder has made three single-figure scores from four innings in this format.
In terms of the lower order, Keshav Maharaj is a capable no.8 but the tail was long against Sri Lanka, with several players prime candidates to be knocked over cheaply.
It’s not yet known what playing XI the hosts will go for, but with genuine pace options like Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah and quality spinners such as Yasir Shah and Zafar Gofar – who are likely relishing the chance to return to helpful surfaces – Pakistan should have enough quality to put a fragile South Africa batting lineup under real pressure.