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'Babar Azam-boosted Pakistan will give a tough fight at home' - Quinton de Kock
South Africa News

'Babar Azam-boosted Pakistan will give a tough fight at home' - Quinton de Kock

South Africa skipper Quinton de Kock has deemed Pakistan to be a big threat in home conditions as his team arrived in Karachi ahead of the upcoming two-Test series.

Pakistan recently endured a couple of heavy Test defeats in New Zealand, stretching their barren run on away tours.

The two losses and the preceding luckless England series have triggered a spate of changes in Pakistan's line-up with new chief selector Mohammad Wasim opting to include nine uncapped players in the 20-member squad for the South Africa Tests.

But de Kock has cautioned against writing off a dramatically overhauled Pakistan team and mentioned the return of their captain Babar Azam as a huge boost to the side.

"I think our biggest challenge is the conditions we are going to face, the unknowing you have to deal with," he told reporters during a press conference in Karachi.

"I don't think the changes come as any consolation. I've played in New Zealand before and it is difficult to bat there and the same Pakistan team that played there will put up a better fight in home conditions.

"One of their main players, Babar Azam has come back, who did not play during that tour of New Zealand. His return will make Pakistan a much more competitive side."

The de Kock-led touring contingent is the first team from South Africa to make a trip to Pakistan in almost 14 years. Only Faf du Plessis from the visitors has had some experience of playing in Pakistan, with a few matches for World XI in 2017 and a solitary appearance for Peshawar Zalmi in PSL 2020.

De Kock felt one could not accurately predict what to expect from the surfaces in the forthcoming series, though Pakistan's selection of a few spinners in the team indicated where they were headed.

"We do understand that spin plays a big part in the subcontinent and they usually prepare dustbowls so we will have all our bases covered," he said.

South Africa have been afforded state level security as the squad has been safeguarded by tightly knit armed personnel on the hotel premises.

De Kock praised the top-notch security arrangement and denied being overawed by the setting.

"When we were coming here, obviously, security was a concern -- if not the biggest concern," he stated.

"When we landed here we saw the amount of security... we became a lot calmer. It became less of a worry and we were able to focus more on cricket."

"It looks like all corners are checked... all bases covered, touch wood."