By Mark Gleeson

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 6 (Reuters) – South Africa’s cricket team will head to Pakistan later this month for the first time in 14 years with captain Quinton de Kock excited by a new challenge but wary of the rigours of being stuck in another bio-secure bubble.

South Africa last toured Pakistan in 2007 when they won the two-match series 1-0 and return for two tests and three Twenty20 internationals later this month.

“There are two sides to it,” said De Kock, who began his tenure as South Africa’s new test skipper with a 2-0 home series win over Sri Lanka, completed on Tuesday with a 10-wicket win in Johannesburg.

“I’m excited to get over there and play cricket in what will be a new challenge. But the off-the-field stuff is another type of challenge. Bubble life is probably going to be the hardest challenge we will face out there.”

South Africa were in a bio-secure environment for December’s abortive limited over series against England and again for the two tests against Sri Lanka.

“It’s very unsettling and a little nervy. It’s an accumulation of a lot of little things you are not used to plus the uncertainty of being caught in a lockdown, where you are then stuck in a place,” De Kock said.

“That’s the worst case scenario but it is something you do think about. But for now, we just have to deal with it in the best way possible.”

International cricket has returned to Pakistan in the past 15 months following a militant attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009 that killed six policemen and two civilians.

The country has hosted Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe since September 2019, while England recently announced a short two-match 20-over series in October next year in the build-up to the T20 World Cup in India. (Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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