Both teams would have loved to have a senior, proven performer making a comeback into their batting line ups. However, in Mohammad Abbas and Vernon Philander, two world class bowlers are back to make lives for difficult for the batting units, either side. Team Pakistan, had yet another collective brain fade, giving away the test to away in a meek performance. They would want more solidity in their batting and a chance for their leg spinner to show his quality.
The talk about the pitch seems to suggest that things might be easier for the batsmen, and the game should go deep enough for Yasir Shah to make an impact. On the batting front, Harris Sohail’s failure to recover from knee injury would likely result in another chance for the Asad Shafiq. Pakistan would expect Azhar Ali to deal with the shorter deliveries better and give Pakistan a better platform. Azhar Ali generally gets better as the series go on in away test. Pakistan would be hoping the trend continues.
South Africa have questions of their own, with the return of Philander. Will they drop the match winner of the 1st test Duanne Olivier or risk going in with no spinner on what looks like a 5 day test match pitch? The left field option could be to drop Theunis de Bruyn, given the all-round skills of Philander. However, that remains unlikely.
Most importantly, the two captain would be under pressure to deliver with the bat, considering their historic lack of performance in the 1st Test. If the wicket is placid and breaks as the game goes on, it will give Pakistan a better chance. However, for that to happen batsmen would have to put their hand up and be counted.