South Africa, Pakistan want fresh start in Karachi Test

Published: Saturday, September 29, 2007, 16:45 [IST]
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South Africa and Pakistan are looking to make a fresh start in Test cricket with both sides fielding new-look squads for the forthcoming first Test in Karachi.

The teams also face the challenge of switching to the longer form of the game from the shortest, following their contrasting fortunes in the inaugural Twenty20 world championships in South Africa.

For the first game in the two-Test series here, the tourists have dropped veteran all-rounder Shaun Pollock, while Pakistan are playing without experienced batsman and former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq.

This is the first time that the 34-year-old Pollock has been left out of the team after taking 416 wickets in 107 Tests -- leaving the door open for the Proteas to inject new talent in the form of Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn.

But Pollock could get a reprieve after rookie paceman Morkel became doubtful for the Test. He faces fitness tests Saturday and Sunday.

Pakistan will be without Inzamam in a home Test for the first time -- except for seven that he missed through injury -- since he made his Test debut in 1992.

Misbah-ul Haq, who was Pakistan's best batsman in the Twenty20 campaign, comes back from four years in the wilderness, while ace batsman Mohammad Yousuf agreed to play after cancelling a contract with a rebel Indian league.

Pakistan, captained by Shoaib Malik for the first time in Tests, will also be without fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who is facing disciplinary action for hitting teammate Mohammad Asif with a bat in South Africa earlier this month.

South African captain Graeme Smith agreed both teams will find it challenging to switch from Twenty20 cricket to Tests.

"It's going to be the biggest challenge mentally, not only for us but for Pakistan as well, to get your mindset changed, more so because we haven't played Test cricket for a number of months," Smith said on Wednesday.

As hosts, South Africa put up a disappointing show when they failed to reach the Twenty20 tournament semi-finals while Pakistan finished runners-up. Both teams lost to India.

Both teams' last Test series was in South Africa in January, where Smith led his team to a 2-1 win over Pakistan, captained by Inzamam.

Smith, however, said playing in the subcontinent would be different.

"Test cricket in the subcontinent is always a big challenge. Pakistan is a formidable team at home and they are a tough team to beat at home and so I think we are going to be ready for it."

The tourists face a test of spin, with leg-spinner Danish Kaneria leading the challenge.

"We faced Danish in South Africa, where wickets turned quite a lot. He certainly is a world-class bowler and obviously in the subcontinent he is going to play an important role and how we play him is going to be the key," said Smith.

Malik said he hoped the home team would carry its Twenty20 form into the Test series.

"The way the boys played in the Twenty20 was remarkable and I hope that they carry that good form into the Test. That will be tough but I have faith in my players," said Malik.

Teams: (from)

South Africa: 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.

Pakistan: 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.

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

TV umpire: Riazuddin

Match referee: Alan Hurst (AUS)

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