After spending years playing at neutral venues, Pakistan is now on the verge of a third successive Test series win at their right home.
While Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were ranked lower than them, a victory over South Africa may seem sweeter considering the opponent is a higher-ranked side.
Pakistan enjoyed a spectacular first Test, with very few things to look back on and question.
The bowlers delivered collectively, while Fawad Alam led the batting line-up with Azhar Ali and Faheem Ashraf’s support.
The Tail contributed effectively in the first innings, which proved to be the difference between a good lead and a match-winning one.
The last three batsmen contributed 83 runs, which can prove to be a massive boost in any scenario.
While Fawad Alam held the fort with the bat, Nauman Ali, on debut, was Pakistan’s star with the ball.
He picked up his first five-wicket haul in the second innings to set up an easy chase for Pakistan.
The Test was a near-perfect one for Pakistan, with most players coming up with fair contributions.
South Africa, on the other hand, has not shown up for the first Test.
There were glimpses of brilliance in the first Test, with Aiden Markram and Rassie Van der Dussen providing starts.
Dean Elgar did well in the first innings but didn’t have proper support, while the batting line-up improved in the second innings.
Like the batting, the bowling showed signs of brilliance, with South Africa picking up four early wickets in the first innings.
They started well but couldn’t keep up the pressure and conceded a large lead.
The lead up to the second Test has not been very promising for the side.
South Africa has been hit with Australia’s news not touring them, which means this Test is the last of the season for South Africa.
With only four Tests in the year, South Africa has struggled to rebuild their side and have their work cut-out for the next season.
With the second Test in Rawalpindi, the conditions may benefit South Africa, giving the side a chance to show its resilience and fight back hard.
They are slowly finding the required balance and have looked promising despite the lack of results.
Another development in the South African camp is the future of their Test captain Quinton De Kock.
Leading in three formats, taking the gloves, and shuffling up and down the batting order, Quinton De Kock may be released of Test Captaincy, as South Africa look to ease the burden on their star player.
The Test series is one of the last in the World Test Championship.
With games called-off and both in transition, the result won’t affect the table, as Pakistan, and South Africa are out of running.
Babar Azam took up the role of Pakistan’s captaincy and is one of the best young batsmen in the world at the moment.
In Karachi, he missed out on his first Test in the last eight, where he did not cross fifty.
With below-par returns in the first Test, Babar Azam will be determined to shine in the second Test at Rawalpindi.
Quinton De Kock:
South Africa’s Test captain is also one of the world’s stars players and did not have a satisfying first Test.
With plans to remove the Test captaincy burden, the second Test could be Quinton De Kock’s last as the side’s leader.
He is still looking to settle in the middle-order and hopes he makes a mark in the last Test of the season for South Africa.
Head Coach Misbah-Ul-Haq, recently stated he wouldn’t mind paying an extra pacer at a spinner’s expense.
Though Pakistan are ready to drop a spinner, Pakistan may stick with the same side after an excellent first Test.
Probable: Imran Butt, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam(c), Fawad Alam, Mohammad Rizwan(wk), Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Nouman Ali, Yasir Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi.
With a string of injuries, South Africa’s eleven remains uncertain for the time being.
Tabraiz Shamsi has recovered from a back injury that kept him out of the Karachi Test, while question marks over Maharaj’s fitness remain.
George Linde and Lungi Ngidi can come in for the injured players, while they may also include a seam-bowling all-rounder.
The batting line-up looks unchanged, with Dean Elgar the only doubt after a bruise on his left hand in the Karachi Test.
Probable: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Rassie Van der Dussen, Faf Du Plessis, Quinton De Kock(c,wk), Temba Bavuma, Wiann Mulder, Keshav Maharaj/George Linde, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi/Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje.
Pitch and Conditions:
Rawalpindi is historically a ground that provides help to the quick bowlers.
With a cooler climate and moisture on the surface, the pace has a good record.
However, on the eve of the Test, the pitch is less grassy and a little dry, allowing spin to be a factor.
The ground will also experience moisture and dew, affecting the length of the day’s play.