Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq warned his team Monday not to get complacent with the absence of top South African players Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn in the one-day series.
Amla flew home after the first Test to be with his pregnant wife, while Steyn has been rested for the first two one-day matches of the five-match series.
"I always feel that after such news the team (Pakistan) gets complacent," Misbah said. "If the (opposition) team is at full strength, it's better for us.
"South Africans have very strong replacements, we have to be mentally strong ... don't look which player is playing and which is not."
The series begins Wednesday at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, which also hosts the last game on November 11. Dubai will host the second one-dayer on November 1, while Abu Dhabi will organize back-to-back ODIs on November 8 and 11.
South Africa bounced back to draw the Test series 1-1 in Dubai last Saturday and preserved its unbeaten record of not losing a Test series away from home since 2006.
"They are always tough," Misbah said. "One-day cricket or Test cricket, you really need to be on your toes while playing against them."
South Africa coach Russell Domingo said his team will go into the ODI series hoping to get used to the conditions in the United Arab Emirates after spending nearly a month in the gulf country.
"It is completely different format but we will take a little bit of confidence," Domingo said. "Hopefully, we are used to the conditions in the UAE."
South Africa lost the one-day series 4-1 in Sri Lanka in July, but Domingo insisted his team had better results against Pakistan.
"We haven't played well of late, especially in Sri Lanka, but we beat Pakistan in South Africa so a bit of confidence from that and obviously from the last Test (victory)," he said.
Pakistan will be beefed up with the inclusion of its one-day cricket specialists - allrounders Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez, middle order batsman Umar Akmal and opener Nasir Jamshed.
Fast bowler Wahab Riaz, rookie Sohaib Maqsood and wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed are the others to join the team for ODIs.
"We've been playing together for a long time now," Misbah said of the inclusion of experienced players. "You can't say it's a new team or it's new faces ... these guys are really playing one-day cricket for the last 3-4 years, and most of them are playing even before that."
Pakistan has fairly good results in limited-overs cricket this year. While it lost narrowly to the Proteas in South Africa, Misbah's men went on to win the ODI series in the West Indies and Zimbabwe.
"We really played well in the ODIs against South Africa so that gives us a bit of confidence," Misbah said. "The conditions (in UAE) always favor Pakistan, so we are looking forward to play good series."
Pakistan are likely to extend their batting lineup and give Akmal duties of wicketkeeping like he did against the West Indies before missing the series against Zimbabwe due to health problems.
South Africa legspinner Imran Tahir, who was born in Lahore, ran through Pakistan in Dubai with 8-130 in the match that included 5-32 in Pakistan's first innings total of only 99.
Misbah was wary of a legspinner's inclusion in the ODIs, but hoped after playing Tahir for 42 overs in the second innings in Dubai his batsmen would not be bothered much.
"On a day a legspinner can make really a big difference," Misbah said. "Now we are used to him (Tahir) ... but at the same time legspinner is a kind of bowler who can give you wickets in the middle of the innings."