Pakistan Test and One-Day International captain Misbahul Haq has termed the upcoming South Africa tour a tough assignment and said he felt the encounter held a lot of importance for the future of his team in the format.
Pakistan will depart for South Africa next week for a full-fledged tour starting with a three-match Test series on February 1 in Johannesburg.
Misbah conceded that the upcoming rubber will be the toughest test for Pakistan in recent times.
“We will not only have to battle a first-ranked Test team but will also have to adjust quickly to the conditions there,” Misbah told reporters at the National Stadium yesterday. “South Africa are strong opponents and playing against them at their home will be a huge challenge. They are a balanced team having quality in both bowling and batting.”
The senior middle-order batsman with 36 Tests caps refused to rely on one department and said a collective team effort was required to cope with the hosts.
“The batsmen will have to stay longer. They will need to post enough runs so that the bowlers can fight and defend it. Similarly, the bowlers will also have to bowl well with discipline.”
Nevertheless, the captain showed faith in his team, saying the players had the potential to yield positive results.
“Last year we defeated the then number one England in a series that was predicted to be unconquerable for us.”
Meanwhile, pacer Umar Gul said he was relishing the opportunity to demonstrate his skills on the fast tracks of South Africa.
“I am preparing myself for the fast tracks in South Africa,” said Gul. “I am fit and in rhythm and looking forward to a good performance against them. Although the India tour was short, it helped boost my confidence.”
‘Good results will be vital for future’
Misbah stated that Pakistan started showing real progress in the Test format in 2010, referring to the drawn UAE series against South Africa in 2010. He said a repeat of the performance would be crucial for the future.
“It’s a big challenge considering the conditions and the opposition. If we manage to give them a good fight then that would ensure a positive psychological influence on our team which will definitely play an important role in the future.”
He felt that the team’s early departure will help them to acclimatise with the conditions.
“We will leave ten days before the Test series starts. We will also play a four-day warm-up match before the series which will help us in getting accustomed to the conditions.”
Meanwhile, the 38-year-old refused to confirm speculations that he was involved in a selection process tussle.
Regarding the inclusion of Ehsan Adil, the captain said the young pacer performed well on domestic circuit and the selectors had chosen him for a reason.
Speaking on the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) plans to initiate the Pakistan Super League, Misbah said the event would help in reviving international cricket in Pakistan.
“It’s a good initiative and the PCB is heading in the right direction.”
Selectors consider addition in Test squad
Meanwhile, the PCB selectors have been toying with the possibility of adding a couple of players in the Test squad for the South Africa series, according to an official.
“A fast-bowler, at least, is highly likely to be added,” said the official. “The selectors are mulling over the names of Tanveer Ahmed (reserve player), Wahab Riaz and Rahat Ali.”
The selectors last week named the 16-man squad that included four pacers. However, the team selection was questioned by many, including senior all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez who felt the team was short of one fast-bowler.
“South Africa are strong opponents and playing against them at their home will be a huge challenge. They are a balanced team, having quality in both bowling and batting.”
“I am preparing myself for the fast tracks in South Africa. I am fit and look forward to a good performance against them. Although the India tour was short, it helped boost my confidence.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2013.