Cricket in October: Previewing Pakistan vs. South Africa, India vs. Australia
October's cricket calendar sees the return of international cricket after a short gap in the schedule for the Champions League T20.
A number of international sides are in action, including South Africa, the No. 1 team in the world.
Pakistan vs. South Africa in the UAE
The Proteas play Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. The two sides faced each other earlier this year in South Africa and the hosts completed a 3-0 clean sweep.
However, conditions in the UAE are much different to the fast and bouncy pitches the South African pacemen are used to, and the biggest test will be how the bowlers adjusted their game.
Dale Steyn is fit again after missing much of the Champions Trophy in England and the tour of Sri Lanka a few months later. Skipper Graeme Smith is also on the mend after he had to undergo ankle surgery and the the SA set-up looks as intimidating as ever.
The last time these two teams played in the UAE, both Tests were drawn. The pitches certainly aren't conducive to bowling and that will be the biggest test for South Africa's men.
There might be some spin on offer which will favour Pakistan more than South Africa. The Proteas have included leg-spinner Imran Tahir in the team, who has not played since 2012. His return is an interesting selection quandary for the South Africans, who might be tempted to play two spinners on tracks that favour the tweakers.
It is also newly-appointed coach Russell Domingo's first Test assignment and while he had a tough time in the shorter formats when South Africa recently played Sri Lanka, the Test side is far more stable and should be a much easier transition.
Pakistan lost a Test against Zimbabwe recently and coach Dav Whatmore has already said that he is hoping that everything will be better when his charges take on the No. 1 Test team.
Dav Whatmore told Cricinfo:
All three adjectives (upsetting, disappointed and embarrassing) can be used to describe the way I feel after the defeat against Zimbabwe. I understand you cannot win with these sort of performances but I don't want to blame. I rather look for reasons and try to see things in a perspective than being judgmental.
I know things were not good as we were a bit naughty with both bat and ball. But in the end, we only lost one Test match. I know it's Zimbabwe and I am also not happy with the result at all. I would like to think and public should understand that Zimbabwe team gave us a better fight than what the whole public thought. It wasn't easy breaking them down as they were not a bad team in their home conditions.
India vs. Australia
India and Australia play a lengthy one-day series.
After Australia were hammered 4-0 in Tests against India earlier this year and then lost the Ashes to England, the tour is a chance for those players who play both the one-day game and the Tests to boost their confidence and their form slightly.
Australia and England will contest the return Ashes in November so time is limited for those struggling to get themselves into shape.
Bangladesh vs. New Zealand and More
Bangladesh and New Zealand also have a Test series on the go in Bangladesh while the West Indies Women take on the New Zealand Women in a couple of one-day internationals.
Cricket in October looks enticing with plenty of nuance to look forward to. The most exciting part, tough, is that Test cricket is back, and after a long lay-off from international cricket action all eyes will be on South Africa as they start their defence of their No. 1 ranking.
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