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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Malik hoping to build on Twenty20 form

Malik hoping to build on Twenty20 form

September 29, 2007 20:33 IST

Shoaib Malik will lead Pakistan for the first time in a Test match on Monday with a spin friendly pitch expected at the National Stadium for the start of a two-Test series against South Africa.

"It is a big challenge leading the team in a Test. But hopefully we can carry our confidence and form of the (Twenty20) World Cup into this tough game," Malik said.

Pakistan, narrowly beaten by India in the final of the Twenty20 World Cup earlier this month, will be without former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq who was invited to play in the match by selectors but declined on personal grounds.

"The World Cup is now over and now we have to successfully switch over to Test cricket which I consider as the real challenge for cricketers," Malik said.

South Africa has decided to go in without their most experienced Test campaigner, Shaun Pollock to signal the start of a new era, unless 23-year old fast bowler, Morne Morkel fails to recover in time from a sprained foot.

Pakistan has named two specialist spinners in their squad in the absence of fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar who is not available on disciplinary grounds.

Leg-spinner Danish Kaneria, who is two short of the 200 wickets milestone, and Abdul Rehman are expected to play as the perception is that South Africa is vulnerable to quality spin.

In their three-day warm up game before the Test, a local allrounder Rizwan Ahmed took seven wickets with his leg-spin.

South Africa coach Mickey Arthur, however, played down the threat posed by the spinners. 

"To be honest we are expecting them to prepare a slow track which will take turn on the last three days. Danish is a fantastic bowler and in the top drawer. But we are prepared," Arthur said.

"Our batsmen are used to playing spin now," he said. "We played Anil Kumble and Danish on spinning wickets in South Africa this year and handled them fairly well and I am confident that our batsmen have the equipment, technique and planning to handle any spin threat," he added.

Mark Boucher who scored a century in the warm-up match said they were batsmen in the side who had plenty of experience of playing in the sub-continent and would remain positive.

"We don't mind if a spinner takes four or five if he goes for big runs," he said.

South Africa are playing their first ever Test at the National Stadium.

Teams:

Pakistan from: Shoaib Malik (capt), Salman Butt, Mohammad Hafeez, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Misbah-ul Haq, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul, Rao Iftikhar, Danish Kaneria, Faisal Iqbal, Yasir Hameed, Taufiq Umar, Abdul Rehman.

South Africa from: Graeme Smith (capt), Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, Jean-Paul Duminy, Herschelle Gibbs, Paul Harris, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Ashwell Prince, Dale Steyn. 

Umpires: Mark Benson (ENG) and Simon Taufel (AUS)

TV umpire: Riazuddin

Match referee: Alan Hurst (AUS)

Source:
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