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Proteas face stiff Pakistan challenge

I am looking forward to the upcoming test series between South Afroca and Pakistan. I find watching the Proteas test side exciting and the Pakistan team grabs my imagination as well.

On their day Pakistan can beat anyone. They have some terrific players. Part of their charm is the fact that they are so unpredictable. Which Pakistan team will turn up on Friday at the Wanderers? Will it be the competitive match-winning unit or the one that goes off the boil at the drop of a hat? Fact is that while Pakistan is in the country there won’t be a dull moment.

I am looking forward in particular to the battle between Pakistan's bowling attack and South Africa's top seven batsmen. In Umar Gul, Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan Pakistan have a formidable pace attack. Certainly one of the best in the world. For the first time in a while the South African batsmen will be examined as far as technique, temperament and courage is concerned.

We are all waiting to see Mohammad Irfan in action. (All seven foot one of him!!) Will he be in the same mould as West Indians Joel Garner and Curtly Ambrose? He is different in that he is even taller than those two and left arm as well.

Not only do the Pakistan have a good pace attack but they have the best off-spinner in the world. Saeed Ajmal has troubled the very best. He is difficult to read and his doosra in particular is very effective. The fact that both Mohammad Irfan and Junaid Khan are left-arm fast bowlers will mean that Ajmal has footmarks to bowl into as the test match progresses. This factor alone may make him a real handful.

I am not for one minute writing South Africa off. I think that the Proteas will overcome this stiff challenge. The reason I say that is that the South African batting line-up is much better than their Pakistani counterpart's.

The problem that Pakistan will more than likely face is to put enough runs together for their vaunted pace attack to win the test matches.

Pakistan have won test matches in this country before. They have won in Durban and in Port Elizabeth. Their batsmen though are facing a stern test -- probably even tougher than what the South African top order will be exposed to. The talents of the Steyn, Morkel, Philander and Kallis combination will be all too familiar to the Pakistan top order.

They will be aware of the fact that the result of the series depends on whether they can combat the considerable talents of the South African pace brigade. Thank heavens that this series should be a far cry from the one sided New Zealand test matches we witnessed recently against the Kiwis.

South African fans deserve a good home series. I am sure the Proteas are looking forward to this one. They too would like to test their skills against the best.

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