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Olivier confirmed to play as Abbas returns

CAPE TOWN: South Africa are to keep up their pace barrage of Pakistan’s frail batting line-up as captain Faf du Plessis said that fast bowler Duanne Olivier will be retained for the second Test at Newlands starting here on Thursday.

Pakistan, meanwhile, will have their premier seamer Mohammed Abbas back from injury and playing one batsman short against a touring attack that gave them plenty of alarm in the series opener could be problematic.

Du Plessis said he wanted to keep the pressure on the Pakistan batsmen after Olivier took a career-best 11 wickets for 96 runs in South Africa’s six-wicket win in the low-scoring first Test in Centurion.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed acknowledged that Olivier had caused problems for his batsmen in Centurion.

“We will definitely talk about him. He’s a different type of bowler with a fast bowling action,” he said.

Sarfraz said left-handed batsman Haris Sohail had not recovered from a knee injury that kept him out of the first Test and will now head back to Pakistan.

The embattled skipper would keep the same batting line-up that played in Centurion.

Sarfraz admitted there were big challenges for his batsmen on fast, bouncy pitches. “We are used to playing on low bouncing pitches. But our players are good enough and they have been working hard in the nets and talking to the batting coach [Grant Flower].”

Sarfraz said the return of Abbas to the bowling line-up would considerably strengthen his team, while he expected the pitch to have ‘something’ for ace leg-spinner Yasir Shah.

“Our bowling gives us so much confidence and Abbas coming back will certainly boost Pakistan,” Sarfraz said. “Hopefully, the batsmen too will stand tall and put up decent runs on the board in this Test.”

There had been speculation that Olivier might have to sit out at Newlands because of the return to fitness of Vernon Philander. But du Plessis said he would definitely play.

“He brings variety to our attack,” said du Plessis, adding that Olivier provided a contrast to the skill and control of South Africa’s other fast bowlers, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander.

“Duanne is more of an enforcer who puts you on the back foot and can be a bit challenging for batters, especially when they come from the sub-continent where the ball doesn’t bounce as high,” said du Plessis. “He’s a fit guy and he can bowl long spells. He’s different, he runs at you, he’s around your head most of the time, it’s not comfortable.”

Du Plessis said South Africa did not want to let Pakistan off the hook following their collapse in the second innings in Centurion.

“You could see there were one or two things in their batting line-up that we could get through. For me it’s about making sure we keep that pressure on them,” he said.

The South African captain said the Newlands pitch looked similar to those used in recent years, with help for the fast bowlers and the possibility of taking spin later in the match. A Test against India last January was completely in what was effectively three days of cricket.

He admitted that bowler-friendly conditions were difficult for South Africa’s batsmen as well as those of the visitors.

“Our success rate in home conditions in the last three years has been very high,” he said. “It’s been tough on the batters when you’re playing against quality seam attacks, which most teams have these days. But we’re looking to play winning cricket. Our focus is to win as many matches as we can.”

South Africa have won all three previous Tests against Pakistan at Newlands and have just four defeats in 24 Tests at all venues against the sub-continent side.

Teams (from):

SOUTH AFRICA: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, Theunis de Bruyn, Faf du Plessis (captain), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Duanne Olivier.

PAKISTAN: Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Mohammad Amir, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Shah Afridi.

Umpires: Bruce Oxenford (Australia) and Joel Wilson (West Indies).

TV umpire: Sundaram Ravi (India).

Match referee: David Boon (Australia).

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