SuperSport Park in Centurion will play host to the Boxing Day Test match for the first time in history, but it will be a known enemy that the Proteas will encounter when they face off against Pakistan for the 13th time on home soil.
Both Pakistan and South Africa must contend with injured frontline pace bowlers, Mohammad Abbas and Vernon Philander sidelined for the first Test for their respective teams. With Lungi Ngidi also nursing a knee injury that kept him out of Mzansi Super League, the name on everyone’s lips for the Test in Centurion is veteran Proteas’ fast bowler Dale Steyn, who has plenty of milestones awaiting on the horizon.
Proteas milestones to watch out for
- Dale Steyn is due to make South African bowling history by overtaking Shaun Pollock as the leading wicket-taker for the Proteas. The pair are currently level on 421 wickets apiece, but Steyn will have an opportunity to overtake Pollock with his first wicket of the Test series. Steyn is also three wickets away from a career-50 Test wickets against Pakistan.
- Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis share a record-most of five centuries each at the venue, and Amla will be keen to add one more to break the record and silence his doubters. Amla is also 63 runs away from 1000 career runs against Pakistan.
- Temba Bavuma is just 12 runs shy of 1500 Test career runs, and will be hoping to be passed fit for the first Test and get a crack at reaching the milestone.
- Quinton de Kock is 75 runs away from 2000 Test career runs and will hope to reach the milestone in the first Test to stamp his authority early on the series.
- Kagiso Rabada would have to surpass his best score of 34 runs by a long way if he has his eyes set on 500 Test career runs during the first Test – which is an unlikely 69 runs away from a fast bowler that dabbles with the bat.
- Keshav Maharaj is 10 wickets away from 100 Test career wickets, and will have to put on a supreme spin bowling performance against the very capable Pakistan batsmen in order to secure the 10-wicket match in the first Test.
Pakistan milestones to watch out for
- Captain and wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed has equalled former Pakistani captain and keeper Moin Khan’s 148 total dismissals in 69 matches, with both taking 128 catches and 20 stumpings each. Sarfraz only needed 46 matches to tie for third place on Pakistan’s all-time list, and will look to hold the record outright on his own.
- Yasir Shah is six runs away from 500 runs in Test cricket, after reaching the 200-mark in Test wickets during the recently-concluded series against New Zealand.
- Asad Shafiq needs 46 more runs to reach 500 Test career runs against South Africa, and will hope to have a decent enough start to the Test series to reach the milestone in the first encounter.
- Azhar Ali will look to make an impact with the bat in a bid to reach 500 Test career runs against the Proteas – he is 78 runs short of the milestone heading into the first Test match.
Proteas’ Test records in Centurion
- Steyn is the leading wicket-taker for the Proteas at his domestic home ground, with 56 wickets in his previous nine matches. The second-best Proteas’ wicket-taker at the venue is Makhaya Ntini’s 54 in 10 matches.
- Amla leads the run-scoring charts with his 1285 runs at an average of 75.58 in 12 matches.
The first Test between South Africa and Pakistan will be held at SuperSport Park on 26-30 December 2018 at 10am (8am GMT).
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