South Africa head coach Mark Boucher has quelled any doubts related to the security measures in place in Pakistan as his team makes its first trip to the country in almost 14 years.
South Africa announced a strong 21-member squad last week for the Test series against Pakistan scheduled to commence on January 26. The touring contingent will be the second team after Zimbabwe to visit Pakistan since the coronavirus pandemic as teams will be residing in a bio-secure bubble.
The last time a Proteas side travelled to Pakistan, Boucher was still an active international cricketer as he took part in his side's triumphant two-Test series campaign in 2007.
The situation will be quite different this time around as Pakistan gradually welcomes back Test cricket following a decade of red-ball isolation that was eventually broken by Sri Lanka in December 2019.
"We’ve had our [security] guys go there and do a recce of the situation and they have said it is safe," Boucher said in an interaction with the press before the team's departure.
"So from my side there are no issues, we have to get back there and start playing cricket."
The two Tests will be staged in Karachi and Rawalpindi with the latter venue generally known for producing lively wickets favourable for pacers.
Boucher seemed aware of this trend and claimed pitches in Pakistan bucked the notion of slow wickets observed in other sub-content nations.
"It is tough but different to India and Sri Lanka, where it [the ball] turns. Pakistan is more conducive to fast bowling. Reverse swing was very big, though regulations are tighter these days on how you can work on the ball," he stated.
"They are historically flat wickets. The areas you score as a batsman are different. If you apply yourself there are a lot of runs out there."
While a full-strength Test side will compete against Pakistan, the T20I encounters proceeding the red-ball clashes might feature a depleted Proteas team.
This arrangement has been decided in response to Australia's prospective tour of South Africa in mid-February. The team management will be sending the Test regulars back home to prepare for the Australia series.
"It is not expected to be our strongest team because we are focused on Test cricket against Australia. It might be a 'watered-down' T20 squad," Boucher declared.
"This is not necessarily bad for us. I have said before that we will try a lot of players this season. This is thus an opportunity for those guys to put their hands up."