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Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan skipper, has said that Yasir Shah will be his big ace ahead of the South Africa Test series, adding that the hosts “haven’t played a top-quality leg-spinner in three years”.

yasir

Yasir Shah, who has claimed 37 Test wickets in just 10 innings this year, has been a revelation with the ball for Pakistan, especially on the dry surfaces in the United Arab Emirates. The Asian team now move away from spinning wickets to seam-friendly conditions in South Africa, but Ahmed remains confident of Shah making a dent in the Proteas batting order.

“If you talk about South Africa’s Test series against Sri Lanka recently, the pitch was different. All foreign teams struggle there, just like all Asian teams come to South Africa and struggle here. Here, the conditions are different but we do have a world-class spinner,” said Sarfraz ahead of the Boxing Day Test.

We have clarity about what we’ll do because we have a coach who has coached in South Africa

“He took 200 wickets in 33 Tests and we know South Africa haven’t played a top-quality leg-spinner in three years. So we have an advantage, we have Yasir Shah, and hopefully, they will struggle against him.”

Pakistan do not have a very good record against the Proteas in South Africa, winning just two of 12 Tests there. They have succumbed to nine defeats in the remaining 10 games, drawing just one. Ahmed is confident ahead of the tour despite these numbers, saying that Pakistan “have a coach who has coached in South Africa”.

“We have clarity about what we’ll do because we have a coach who has coached in South Africa. If you talk about the history of Centurion pitches, the fourth innings is very difficult here,” he pointed out. Whoever wins the toss would like to bat first. No one would want to bat in the fourth innings if they’re chasing over 200.”

Top-order batsman Azhar Ali, too, exuded self-assurance ahead of the three-Test series and believes it is a “very exciting challenge”.

“The morale of the team is very good,” he insisted. “Everybody is working really hard and is up for the challenge. It’s a very exciting challenge obviously, which brings lots of opportunities and everyone is looking forward to it.”

The first of three Tests between South Africa and Pakistan will begin from Boxing Day, 26 December, at the SuperSport Park in Centurion.

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