Crisis-hit Pakistan face tough South Africa test

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Pakistan will hope to put a series of problems behind them and build under new captain Misbah-ul-Haq when they play the 1st Test against the Proteas.

Updated: November 10, 2010 11:21 IST
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Pakistan will hope to put a series of on and off-field problems behind them and build under new captain Misbah-ul-Haq when they play the first Test against South Africa starting here on Friday.

Pakistan's last Test against England at Lord's in August has been a subject of separate inquiries from Scotland Yard and the International Cricket Council (ICC) after a British newspaper report claimed several of its players accepted money from match-fixers.

Test captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir - accused of contriving deliberate no-balls during that match -- were provisionally suspended by the ICC.

Misbah replaced Salman as captain for the two-Test series, shifted to the United Arab Emirates after South Africa refused to tour Pakistan over security fears.

Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi Stadiums will host a Test for the first time after becoming Pakistan's neutral venues since 2008 in the face of the security situation.

Pakistan, led by Shahid Afridi, lost the preceding Twenty20 series 2-0 and five-match one-day series 3-2 -- a result Misbah hopes will not affect the Test performance.

"You always learn with time and experiences," said Misbah, who will be Pakistan's fourth Test captain this year behind Mohammad Yousuf, Afridi and Salman. "We want to put all the problems behind us and give our best against South Africa."

As if spot-fixing allegations were not enough, Pakistan cricket again hit the headlines for the wrong reasons this week when wicket-keeper Zulqarnain Haider fled the team hotel to London on Monday, saying he had received threats from unknown people.

With regular wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal already not selected for the tour for fitness reasons, Pakistan had to call uncapped Adnan Akmal, the younger brother of Kamran and also retained opener Mohammad Hafeez for Tests.

With Asif and Amir missing in action, Pakistan's bowling attack will rely heavily on pacemen Umar Gul and Mohammad Sami -- recalled after being ignored for the England tour.

In the absence of leg-spinner Danish Kaneria, Saeed Ajmal, Hafeez and Abdul Rehman will lead the spin bowling.

Pakistan's batting will revolve around Younis Khan - who has not played a Test since July last year - and Yousuf, both having enormous experience.

South Africa will have no such problems.

They have quality batsmen in Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers and enough bowling resources -- with spinners Paul Harris and Johan Botha -- to handle an unpredictable Pakistan batting.

Wicket-keeper Mark Boucher returns to the squad after missing the limited over series.

Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Imran Farhat, Taufiq Umer, Mohammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Umar Akmal, Azhar Ali, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Adnan Akmal, Umar Gul, Tanveer Ahmed, Mohammad Sami, Wahab Riaz

South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Paul Harris, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Alviro Petersen, Ashwell Prince, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe

Umpires: Asoka de Silva (SRI) and Daryl Harper (AUS)

TV umpire: Ahsan Raza (PAK)

Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)

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