Abu Dhabi set for T20 thriller

In another time, it would have been just another series. But Pakistan’s home series against South Africa in the UAE assumes more importance as the teams sort out their combinations for the ICC World Cup 2011.

By James Jose

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Published: Mon 25 Oct 2010, 11:14 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 2:53 AM

Pakistan play South Africa in a full series of Twenty20, one-day internationals and Tests during the month-long tour. The series, titled ‘Bank Al Falah presents Cool & Cool Cup,’ features two Twenty20 internationals, five one-day internationals and two Tests.

The tour begins with the first of the two Twenty20 Internationals on Tuesday at the Shaikh Zayed International Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

The first T20 is a charity match for the Pakistan flood victims. It will be the first Twenty20 international to be played at the Shaikh Zayed stadium.

Pakistan play New Zealand after this series and Afridi, Pakistan’s Twenty20 and ODI captain, reckoned it was a crucial series for them.

“The World Cup is close. It is not far away. We know how important this series is. We are focussing on playing good cricket now,” Afridi said on the eve of the first Twenty20 match.

“We have a good combination. Winning and losing is part of the game. It depends on how we bat, bowl and field. If we do all of it properly, the result will be positive. This series is important for us,” said Afridi, who has a massive following in this part of the world.

Afridi said that South Africa will be tough to beat but added that the conditions here will suit Pakistan.

“South Africa are a good side and they are a professional outfit. But these conditions will suit us.

“It is a good batting track, like what we get in the sub-continent,” he said.

About Younis Khan’s return, Afridi said: “Younis Khan is an experienced player.

“He is a good performer. I don’t think it will be tough for him to adjust.”

Younis Khan has been added to the ODI and Test squad.

Good test

Meanwhile, South Africa’s new Twenty20 captain Johan Botha said that the series against Pakistan would be a good test as they prepare for the World Cup.

“Pakistan have a very good Twenty20 side. They have knocked us out in a couple of big tournaments in recent times. It is the first test of the sub-continent for the summer. All of us are quite excited. We have a nice, fresh young team here,” Botha said.

Both sides are missing some key players but Botha said that comes with playing international cricket.

“We miss quality players anytime you play. I am sure Pakistan are going to miss some key players.

“And I am sure we are going to miss our quality players but the young guys we have got here, they have done a lot for us in recent games,” said Botha.

About the combination for the two Twenty20s, Botha said: “It depends obviously on the conditions whether we play more than one spinner.

“Twenty20 teams are pretty similar and it won’t change much.”

Three key South African players—all-rounder Jacques Kallis, quick Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are doubtful starters for the Twenty20 games and maybe the ODIs. The trio missed the recent home series against Zimbabwe due to injuries.

But coach Corrie van Zyl said that they were monitoring them on a daily basis.

“We are monitoring them on a daily basis. They are here and part of the squad and working with us. They are in various stages of recovery. We will be led by the medical team,” Zyl said.

South Africa have set very high standards when it comes to fielding and Zyl said that they needed to work on that aspect a lot more.

“Our fielding was average, maybe because it is the start of the season. But we will move forward in this regard. The last couple of games were quite tough and it might not have been where we wanted it to be. We are hoping to improve on that,” he said.


Pakistan: Shahid Afridi ©, Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Asad Shafiq, Fawad Alam, Imran Farhat, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal, Shahzaib Hasan, Shoaib Akhtar, Tanvir Ahmed, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Zulqarnain Haider, Mohammed Yousuf. Coach: Waqar Younis.

South Africa: Johan Botha ©, Loots Bosman, AB de Villiers, Jean-Paul Duminy, Colin Ingram, Jacques Kallis, David Miller, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Graeme Smith, Dale Steyn, Rusty Theron, Lonwabo Tsotsobe. Coach: Corrie van Zyl.

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