THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, LAHORE, 08th OCTOBER 2013:
Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq said yesterday his side was ready to take on the mighty South Africans, despite missing an opener and enduring a wretched recent run of form.
The sides meet for a two-Test series in the UAE starting next week, with Pakistan coming off the back of an embarrassing drawn series against minnows Zimbabwe. South Africa, rated the number one Test team in the world, whitewashed Pakistan 3-0 at home earlier in the year, but Misbah insisted his men would rise to the challenge.
“Our preparations and morale are good,” said the 39-year-old skipper as the team left for the UAE. We have to forget the past and play competitive cricket in this tough series.
“We will need to perform in batting, bowling and fielding departments.
“In Tests, you have to take 20 wickets to win besides scoring runs. If we want to give South Africa a tough time, then we’ll have show all-round performance in the series.”
‘Other players besides Hafeez are capable too’
Pakistan have won only one of their last eight Tests, with their batsmen letting them down repeatedly.
They go into the series with just one specialist opener in the 12-man squad as regular Mohammad Hafeez was dropped after scoring just 102 in his last five Tests.
“No doubt Hafeez is a senior player, but because he is out of form it was difficult for him [to get into the team], but I am sure others are also capable of doing well,” said Misbah.
Misbah said a three-day practice match between Pakistan ‘A’ and a South Africa XI, starting in Sharjah today, would give them the chance to identify a replacement.
“We will use a regular opener, there will be no makeshift arrangement and I am sure that we will find another opener from the three-day match,” said Misbah.
With the experienced Hafeez, Imran Farhat and Taufeeq Umar left out, it is a fresh-faced Pakistan top order that will take on the might of South Africa’s four-man pace attack.
The selected opener Khurram Manzoor has played only nine Tests while two other candidates for the second opening berth – Ahmed Shehzad and Shan Masood — have yet to make their Test debuts.