Dubai - South Africa hope a resurgent Hashim Amla carries his eminent limited-overs form into the Test series against Pakistan starting on Friday.
Amla starred in the drawn Test series in India in February with three centuries in three innings, including a career-best 253 not out in Nagpur. But the opener failed to post a half-century in the three June Tests in the Caribbean, despite the Proteas beating West Indies 2-0.
It was in the one-day series victory over Pakistan that Amla returned to form with a century and two half-centuries, posting a leading average of almost 73.
"Amla has been fantastic for us, and we are expecting him to take his ODI form into the Test matches as well," South Africa captain Graeme Smith said.
Amla and Smith feature in a batting lineup that is expected to prove the difference between the teams in the Tests in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Despite Pakistan pushing the one-day series to the fifth and final match in the Emirates, its batting has generally been shaky and unreliable, letting down a threatening bowling attack.
Former captains Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf have been retained, and the batting has been bolstered by the recall of allrounder Mohammad Hafeez, who adds depth to an inexperienced group of spinners.
"We will play to our strength, and that is spin bowling," said new Pakistan Test captain Misbal-ul-Haq. "We have the option to include two spinners (Saeed Ajmal and Abdul Rehman) and looking at the pitch, I think spinners will play a key role in the Test."
The Test has been backdropped by another Pakistan scandal, the mysterious withdrawal of Zulqarnain Haider on the eve of the final ODI on Monday. Haider abandoned the team and flew to London to reportedly escape death threats linked to fixing the ODI matches.
Haider was the team's only specialist wicketkeeper, so in his absence and suspension, Adnan Akmal was drafted in and will likely make his Test debut, following in the footsteps of older brothers Kamran and Umer Akmal.
Misbah believes his team will put behind the disappointment of Haider and losing the Twenty20 and ODI series and approach both Tests with a determined mindset. Pakistan's last Test series win was against West Indies at home way back in 2006.
"We want to put all the problems behind us and give our best against South Africa," said Misbah. "You always learn with time and experiences."
South Africa has won 12 of its last 14 one-day internationals, and is keen to switch focus to the five-day game. The Pakistan series will be an entree to the Proteas' No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown next month with India.
"Our focus has shifted. We are now thinking of nothing but the five big test matches ahead of us," Smith said.
"We have been good in the limited-overs, and we want to be as successful as possible in the other format as well. We have been successful in test matches in the last three years and we want to continue doing so."