Shoaib: Spin holds the key
Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik says his side will not attempt to match South Africa's pace bowling firepower in the opening Test.
Last Updated: 30/09/07 6:34pm
Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik says his side will not attempt to match South Africa's pace bowling firepower in the opening Test, which starts in Karachi on Monday.
The Proteas have brought a squad containing six fast bowlers and only one spinner, leaving little doubt as to how they will approach the two-match series.
But Shoaib, who will be leading Pakistan for the first time in a Test, is keen for his players to concentrate on their own strengths, with leg-spinner Danish Kaneria likely to be a key figure on a dry surface at the National Stadium.
"They have six fast bowlers and one spinner, so we are not going to play on their strength," said Shoaib.
"We will play on our strength and would do our best to win.
"I am not nervous because I have played a lot of Tests and nothing is challenging if you have the commitment to do well."
It will be a new-look Pakistan side that takes the field in Karachi, with Inzamam-ul-Haq and Shoaib Akhtar absent for differing reasons.
Former skipper Inzamam asked not to be considered on personal grounds, while fast bowler Shoaib faces a disciplinary hearing following a dressing-room altercation that led to him being sent home from the ICC World Twenty20.
"Cricketers come and go but Inzamam was a world class player and will be missed but I think the available batsmen can come good for us in the Test," added captain Shoaib.
Inzamam's likely replacement is Misbah-ul-Haq, who starred during Pakistan's run to the final of the Twenty20 tournament, and is likely to make his sixth Test appearance four years after his last.
South Africa captain Graeme Smith is expecting a spin-friendly wicket, but remains confident his bowling attack will adapt to the conditions.
Fast bowler Morne Morkel is an injury doubt after hurting his leg, meaning Shaun Pollock and Andre Nel are on stand-by to come into the starting XI.
But Smith is hoping left-arm spinner Paul Harris can carry the burden of being the Proteas' only frontline slow bowling option.
"The pitch looks dry and well-prepared," said Smith.
"It's a kind of wicket we expect going into the first Test in the subcontinent because you have a preconceived idea about what you're going to get here.
"Harris is obviously going to play an important role. He's quite a confident guy, which is good. He's quite up for taking responsibility for his position which is always encouraging from a spin bowler in the subcontinent."