For the first time in our history, Centurion will host the Boxing Day Test this year, with the intriguing Pakistan side playing their first of three Test matches against the Standard Bank Proteas at the iconic Centurion. On the back of a well-attended Test between South Africa and India, the traditional holiday Test promises to be another terrific battle between bat and ball.
Pakistan, the reigning ICC Champions Trophy holders, are familiar with the Tshwane venue, and have provided some of the best highlights that the venue has ever seen. Back in 2003, during the ICC World Cup, the match between India and Pakistan at the venue was the most anticipated fixture of the early stages.
Though India won on the day, thanks to the brilliance of Sachin Tendulkar, Pakistan played a full part in a fine match, with the searing pace of Shoaib Akhtar on display, and their clutch of dashing batsmen coming to the fore.
That proud tradition of fast bowling and fine batting endures to this day, and Pakistan are currently in the UK, enjoying a tour of Ireland, England and Scotland. Already, they have been part of history, as they were the opponents for Ireland’s debut Test match in Malahide.
Next up for the Mickey Arthur coached Pakistan are England, at the home of cricket. The opening Test of the English summer starts on Thursday, 24 May, and Pakistan will provide a stern examination for Joe Root and his men.
They have happy memories of their last outing in London, as they secured the ICC Champions Trophy at The Oval, with a brilliant century from Fakhar Zaman enabling them to defy their rivals India in the showpiece match.
Zaman has now graduated his elegant left-handed batting to the Test side, and he is joined by another newcomer to the ranks in Imam ul-Haq. If the name sounds familiar, it is because Imam is the nephew of former great and current selection convenor, Inzamam ul-Haq.
Pakistan are led by the bubbly Sarfraz Ahmed, and they also have the left-arm pace prowess of Mohammad Amir to call upon at the home of cricket, and Amir is sure to be a massive drawcard when he visits Supersport Park Centurion later in the year.
Pakistan always attract an audience wherever they go, and they will have plenty of support in London – just as they are bound to do at Centurion for the Boxing Day Test.