Reserve for Pakistan ODI
Misbah confident Pakistan can cope without Hafeez
LAHORE: Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq said Monday 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 United Arab Emirates starting next week, with Pakistan coming off the back of an embarrassing drawn series against minnows Zimbabwe.
South Africa, rated 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 moral are good,” the 39-year-old skipper said as the team left for the UAE.
“We have to forget the past and play competitive cricket in this tough series.”
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 to do well,” said Misbah.
Misbah said a three-day practice match between Pakistan 'A' and a South Africa XI, starting in Sharjah on Tuesday, would give them the chance to identify a replacement.
“We will use a regular opener, there will be no makeshift arrangements 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.
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Quadir gives South Africans something to ponder
South Africans 345 for 8 dec. (Kallis 70) and 109 for 3 drew with Pakistan A 311 for 6 dec. (Shehzad 66)
Satisfied with their workout after eight sessions, the South Africans called time on their practice match against Pakistan A at tea on the final day. Their final act was to almost invert their batting line-up to ensure the lower and middle order had time at the crease.
Usman Qadir, the 20-year old son of Pakistan's Abdul Qadir, bowled a testing spell to give the South Africans a flavour of what is to come in the Test series. His googly was difficult for Faf du Plessis and Robin Peterson to read and Peterson was eventually foxed by it, feathering a catch to Mohammad Rizwan.
Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel battled as well but were stubborn in their resistance. With the South Africans allowing Dale Steyn to put his feet up, once the other two seamers had faced what management thought was a sufficient amount of the bowling, they decided enough was enough.
That left Graeme Smith as the only batsmen who did not spend a significant amount of time in the middle. Smith was dismissed for 2 in the first innings and did not return to bat in the second. The official line was that he sat out as part of a management process following his ankle surgery in May. The other four batsmen in the top order - Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers - also did not bat in the second dig but scored half-centuries in the first.
Pakistan's bowling remained as disciplined as it was earlier in the match, with the seamers keeping things tight on a flat pitch against batsmen whose aim was to get practice against the new ball. Both Duminy and du Plessis handled the test carefully. Yasir Shah, the other legspinner in the attack, did not trouble the batsmen too much and it was only when Qadir was introduced, that the South Africans experienced problems.
The lower middle-order struggles with the wrong 'un will no doubt be relayed to the Pakistan senior side ahead of Monday's first Test. Ahmed Shehzad, who scored 66 for Pakistan A, Shan Masood, the other opener who reached a half-century, and Asad Shafiq, whose was solid for most of his innings, were added to their group.
Shafiq has been a regular member of Pakistan's Test squad in recent times and will be disappointed with the way he was dismissed in what was a trial for him. Vernon Philander, who looked the most impressive of the South African seamers on the final morning, had him surprised by extra lift and caught in the slips.
Philander was the only wicket-taker for the South Africans on day three but all the seamers got in a spell. Morkel claimed a scalp the previous day but Steyn, bowling within himself pace-wise, went without reward. Kallis had a brief four-over outing while the spinners were all thoroughly worked as South Africa decide on a final XI for Abu Dhabi.