JOHANNESBURG – Away from the tour game these past few days, Pakistan have, according to their coach Mickey Arthur, put in some marathon training spells in preparation for the three-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 work-out the likes of Amir, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hasan Ali got.
Mohammad Abbas’ availability for the first Test is still in doubt.
He was going through fitness drills during the intervals in Benoni, and his shoulder will be closely monitored in the days leading up to the opening game at SuperSport Park.
On Friday, 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 the 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 hundreds in the first innings of the warm-up game, and opener Imam-ul-Haq got more good time at the crease on Friday following a sporting declaration by the Invitation XI’s captain Marques Ackerman, scoring 66.
Pakistan won the warm-up game by six wickets, but the result was meaningless, as the really important stuff starts at SuperSport Park on Wednesday.@shockerhess