Mohammad Hafeez & Faf du Plessis
DURBAN: Pakistan have a chance to hit back after a trouncing in the Test series when they meet South Africa in the first of two Twenty20 internationals at Kingsmead tomorrow.
The tourists were outclassed in the Tests, losing all three matches, but can be reasonably optimistic about their prospects in the shorter forms of the game with the Twenty20 games followed by five one-day internationals.
Only five of South Africa’s current Test players are in the T20 squad -- Faf du Plessis, who has been appointed captain in the shortest format, AB de Villiers, Robin Peterson, Rory Kleinveldt and fast bowling discovery Kyle Abbott.
The change of emphasis in South Africa’s approach is underlined by the fact that national coach Gary Kirsten handed the T20 reins to Russell Domingo, his assistant coach, before a three-match series against New Zealand earlier in the season. South Africa won that series 2-1.
Pakistan will be boosted by the inclusion of the experienced duo of Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik.
Opening batsman Mohammad Hafeez takes over as T20 captain, although Test skipper Misbah-ul-Haq will resume the leadership for the one-day internationals, which start in Bloemfontein on March 10.
The Akmal brothers, Kamran and Umar, who were not part of the Test squad, are others who could add impetus to the T20 side.
Whereas South Africa’s greatest strength is in their number one-ranked Test team, Pakistan are likely to be lifted by the infusion of new players after a morale-sapping experience in the Test series.
“It will be good to have some new players for the one-day games... the new players will come with fresh minds and a positive attitude,” Misbah said after the final Test ended in three days on Sunday.
By contrast, Domingo said South Africa faced a “much tougher” challenge in the T20s, describing his team as “a work in progress” with young players being tried out with a view to the next World T20 in Bangladesh next year.
Meanwhile, fast bowler Kyle Abbott has been added to South Africa’s one-day squad for the series against Pakistan, as cover for the injured Morne Morkel. Morkel had picked up a hamstring injury during the course of the second Test and is still recovering. As a result of that injury, Abbott was called up to the Test squad too, for the third match, and impressed with a nine-wicket haul (including seven in the first innings) on international debut.
Squads: South Africa: Faf du Plessis (capt), Kyle Abbott, Farhaan Behardien, Henry Davids, Quinton de Kock (wkt), AB de Villiers (wkt), Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Chris Morris, Justin Ontong, Robin Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez (capt), Nasir Jamshed, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal (wkt), Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul, Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Amin, Zulfiqar Babar, Asad Ali, Junaid Khan.