Azam confident as Pakistan faces South Africa test

Conditions suit us more because most of us have played here, says the home captain

Babar Azam will make his Test captaincy debut on Tuesday against a tough South Africa team that is touring Pakistan for the first time in more than 13 years.

Azam has recovered from a thumb injury that kept him out of the two-Test series in New Zealand, which Pakistan lost 2-0.

Proud moment

“I missed the series against New Zealand, but it’s a proud moment for me that I am doing my captaincy debut in my own country,” Azam said on Monday.

“South Africa is a good team. You can’t take them lightly, but conditions suit us more because most of us have played here,” he added.

South Africa last toured Pakistan in 2007 because the country was forced to organise its “home” Test series in the United Arab Emirates following a terrorist attack on a bus carrying the Sri Lanka team in Lahore in 2009.

The second Test will be played in Rawalpindi from Feb. 4, followed by the three-match T20I series in Lahore from Feb. 11-14.

Pakistan is out of the race to qualify for the World Test Championship final at Lord’s in June while South Africa has only a mathematical chance to make it with India, New Zealand, Australia and England among the top contenders.

Poor record

Azam was well aware of Pakistan’s poor Test record against South Africa, winning only four of 26. One of Pakistan’s 15 losses came at the National Stadium — the venue for the first Test — when South Africa toured in 2007. “We should not think about past, we should focus on what’s ahead of us,” Azam said.

“It’s a fact that we don’t have a good record against them, but we have prepared well and we hope to give our best against them this time.”

Pakistan has included six uncapped players in a 17-man squad. Opening batsman Imran Butt and left-arm spinner Nauman Ali could make their Test debuts on Tuesday.

Azam also said Pakistan might go with an additional spinner along with Yasir Shah.

“We have practised here for a week now and the wicket looks a bit slow,” Azam said.

South Africa also has left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj to pose problems for the home team. The tourists have been practising for the last six days to get used to the conditions.

“I’m sure this Pakistan team is going to be tough,” South Africa captain Quinton de Kock said when the team arrived.

“I think our biggest challenge is the conditions that we could face and not knowing the things that we have to deal with.”

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