Pakistan's coach Mickey Arthur chats with captain Sarfraz Ahmed. Photo: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

Away from the game these past few days, Pakistan have, according to their South African coach Mickey Arthur, put in some marathon training spells in preparation for the three-match Test series against South Africa starting next week.

It’s perfectly understandable why Arthur would have been working his troops so hard since they’ve arrived here.

Some, most notably the spearhead of their attack Mohammad Amir, have played very little cricket in the last month.

Also, with the series being played in such a short period of time  21 days  the time in between matches will be used for rest and recuperation.

Arthur did not want his bowlers operating at full tilt in the warm-up match against a youthful and talented SA Invitation XI this week and was actually delighted with the workout the likes of Amir, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hasan Ali got.

Mohammad Abbas’s availability for the first Test is still in doubt. He was going through fitness drills during the intervals at Willowmoore Park in Benoni and his shoulder will be closely monitored in the days leading up the opening Test at SuperSport Park starting on Wednesday.

Yesterday, the prodigious leg-spinner Yasir Shah took to the field having arrived a few days later than the rest of the squad to be at the birth of his first child.

He bowled 11 overs and got himself a wicket, without showing too much of the wiles that will most certainly be displayed once the more serious matters start in a few days time.

Pakistan have taken as much as they wanted out of their first week in South Africa.

Their batsmen for the most part got some good time at the crease at Willowmoore Park too, although it will be a much sterner test for them when they confront Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada.

Azhar Ali and Babar Azam scored centuries in the first innings of the warm-up game, and opener Imam-ul Haq got more good time at the crease yesterday, following a sporting declaration by the Invitation XI’s captain Marques Ackerman, scoring 66.

Pakistan won the three-day warm-up game by six wickets, but the result was meaningless, the really important stuff starting at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Wednesday. Stuart Hess


Saturday Star

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