SHARJAH - Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul Haq is hoping his side can bounce back from their crushing second Test defeat when the five-match one-day series with South Africa starts in Sharjah on Wednesday.
With what he calls favourable conditions in the United Arab Emirates, Misbah is aiming to put the Dubai defeat by an innings and 92 runs behind him and hopes Pakistan can exploit the conditions. “We have been really playing well in one-day cricket in the last three-four years, everybody knows what they are going to get against South Africa and these conditions are always in favour of Pakistan so we are looking forward to playing a good series,” said Misbah.
But he warned against complacency as South Africa will be without spearhead bowler Dale Steyn, who is being rested, and Hashim Amla, who returned home as his wife has given birth, for the first two one-day games. “I always feel that after such news the team gets complacent so if Amla does not play or Steyn doesn’t play it doesn’t make a difference, South Africa is one of the good teams in the world and have very strong replacements,” said Misbah.
Steyn will also miss the second one-dayer, in Dubai on November 1, but is likely to return for the third match in Abu Dhabi on November 6. The fourth match will also be played in Abu Dhabi, on November 8, before the series ends in Sharjah on November 11. The two teams will also play two Twenty20 internationals in Dubai on November 13 and 15.
Pakistan will be boosted by the return of all-rounders Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi, in addition to opener Nazir Jamshed, Umar Akmal and paceman Wahab Riaz. The Pakistanis won their last two one-day series, against Zimbabwe and the West Indies, while South African went down tamely in Sri Lanka 4-1. But despite that defeat Misbah reckons South Africa are difficult one-day opponents.
“They are a good decent side, they have players who can really turn the matches around, dangerous side so you really need to be on your toes while playing against them,” said Misbah, referring to the 3-2 home series defeat the South Africans handed Pakistan in March. Misbah said Pakistan would not be relying only on a spin sttack, led by Saeed Ajmal and backed by Abdur Rehman, Afridi and Hafeez. “South African are a very good side, they play spin really well, so overall, your bowling attack has to perform,” the Pakistan captain said.
“I think the batsmen will have to raise their game because batting has been our problem in the recent past,” said Misbah, who is the leading run-scorer in one-day cricket this year with 961 from 21 matches. South African coach Russell Domingo hoped his team take the momentum of the second Test win into the one-day series. “I think the second Test win will help us in our confidence in a way although it is a completely different format but we will take a little bit of confidence,” said Domingo.
SOUTH AFRICA: AB de Villiers (capt), Colin Ingram, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Graeme Smith, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Misbah-ul-Haq (capt) Ahmed Shehzad, Nasir Jamshed, Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Amin, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz, Sohaib Maqsood, Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed
UMPIRES: Richard Illingworth (ENG) and Shozab Raza (PAK)
TV UMPIRE: Steve Davis (AUS)
ICC MATCH REFEREE: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI).