Pakistan v SA
Proteas face tough choices
Dubai - Will the Proteas selectors opt for "Mr Reliable", Ashwell Prince, or JP Duminy and his newly-discovered batting form?
This is the headache facing the South African cricket selectors on the eve of the first of two Tests against Pakistan, starting on Friday.
The two players will in all likelihood have to fight it out for a spot in the Proteas’ middle order.
In the recent one-day series against Pakistan, Duminy showed signs of the batsman who stunned the cricket world two years ago with his innings of 166 in Melbourne, achieved in only his second Test.
The 26-year-old left-hander got his first Test chance when Prince suffered a serious finger injury shortly before the Perth game.
He scored a total of 335 runs (on an average of 83.75) in five matches against the Pakistanis.
After his return, Prince was used as an opening batsman and in his first Test in this position in March last year he smashed 150 against Australia in Cape Town.
Prince regained his number 6 spot earlier this year thanks to Duminy's dip in form and an apparent weakness against the short-pitched delivery.
He was one of the stalwarts of the batting order in the Test series against the West Indies in June.
Prince’s fine form in the West Indies, and the 33-year-old’s almost blemish-free record, should tip the scales (at least for the first Test) in his favour.
He has already scored 3 355 runs, among them 11 centuries, in 57 Tests for an impressive average of 43.57.
Alviro Petersen is likely to open the batting with Graeme Smith.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani selectors had to dig deep after the shock exit of their first-choice wicketkeeper, Zulqarnain Haider.
He fled on Monday night to London after apparently receiving death-threats from a bookie.
Adnan Akmal, the brother of Kamran and Umar, will now take position behind the wicket while Mohammad Hafeez and Younis Kahn have also been included after good performances in the ODI series.