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Fighting fire with fire is not a theory Pakistan is looking to employ over the next few weeks as they battle the best Test side in the world.
Though they may lack the experience of the South African attack, Pakistan's bowling unit is nevertheless one tailor-made to succeed in South African conditions, which more than any other country in the world, favour fast bowling. Pakistan has always had outstanding fast bowlers.
From Sarfraz Nawaz, to Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar, Pakistan more than any of the other subcontinent nations have revelled in conditions where bounce and pace are prevalent.
Their batsmen may battle, but those quick bowlers will enjoy themselves out here.
However as Misbah ul-Haq, Pakistan's captain explained yesterday, his young quick bowlers will also have to adapt to the conditions here, as helpful as they may be to their talents. There is a tendency to get carried away with how the ball bounces at the Wanderers, how fast the track is or how much the new ball swings at Newlands.”In terms of experience, with the exception of Umar Gul, no (bowlers) have played in South Africa before. But it's about adapting to the conditions,” Misbah said yesterday.
In Junaid Khan, Mohammed Irfan – all 2.15m of him – Gul and teenager Ehsan Adil, Pakistan has a set of fast bowlers who are also capable of making the South African batsmen hop around.
“But this bowling attack and Junaid Khan in particular, with the way he's been bowling, will love to bowl in these conditions. If Irfan puts the ball in the right areas he can be successful. Saeed Ajmal is one of the best bowlers in the world at the moment and in South African conditions, you do get turn and bounce, especially on day four and five. These bowlers will play a key role in our campaign.”
Junaid Khan finished the recent three match one-day series against India, which Pakistan won 2-1, with eight wickets at an average of 12.37, and while those conditions are vastly different to what will be found at the Wanderers, Newlands and Centurion, those figures indicate how dangerous he can be, if given some assistance from the surface.
For Junaid and his team to be able to build pressure, Misbah and the rest of Pakistan's batsmen will have to put sufficient runs on the board.
As is the case with all teams from the sub-continent, getting accustomed to the ball hitting high up on the bat, as opposed to low down on the blade will be crucial.
“We have to bat well here, when you just come from the sub-continent it is a real challenge for you to score runs here,” said Misbah.
“Whenever we go abroad, especially to places like here or New Zealand, we have our own methods to practice for this bounce and pace. As batsmen we have to practice against a lot of bouncing balls, so we use different tactics for that.”
Dav Whatmore, Pakistan's Australian coach, said he didn't expect the players to feel sorry for themselves and hinted at a mindset the tourists may adopt to be successful in South Africa.
“It can be difficult (for a youngster) because of the general consistency of slightly higher bounce and the pace might be a little more than normal. But if you can get over that, these are pretty good batting conditions as well, a little like Australia. If our young guys are able to get through that, there could be a lot of good times for them also.”Pakistan began their preparations in East London today ahead of a four-day tour match against a strong South African Invitational XI that starts at Buffalo Park on Friday.
“I would like to see our skills do the talking. Our boys would prefer to show their skill more rather than anything else. The aggressive part should be shown with skill,” Whatmore said in explaining Pakistan's approach for the tour.
The first of three Tests starts at the Wanderers next Friday.
Pakistan will also play five one-day internationals and two T20 matches against South Africa.
l The Pakistani team is crying out for a return of Test cricket to the country.
Team manager Naveed Cheema and captain Misbah-ul-Haq voiced their yearning for hosting Test cricket in Pakistan for the first time in four years.
Pakistan last hosted a Test series in 2009 against Sri Lanka when armed militants attacked the visiting team bus in Lahore, killing eight locals and six players. Since then, no international teams have travelled to Pakistan to play Test matches.
“It is a dilemma in Pakistan that we are not getting international cricket,” Cheema said. “Our people have a passion for cricket and unfortunately on security concerns it’s not happening. There is a difference between perception and reality.” - Pretoria News