Islamabad: Pakistan’s batsmen will seek form when they open their tour of South Africa with a three-day match against a South African Invitation XI at Willowmoore Park in Benoni.
It is the only game for the tourists before the first of three Tests starts in Centurion on December 26. Pakistan twice suffered fourth-innings batting collapses in losing a recent Test series against New Zealand in the United Arab Emirates.
Both captain Sarfraz Ahmed and coach Mickey Arthur acknowledged on arrival in South Africa that posting competitive totals was crucial if they are to match the hosts in what is shaping as a battle between two teams with strong bowling attacks.
With the warm-up match clashing with the resumption of South Africa’s four-day franchise competition, the Invitation XI is drawn from the country’s second-tier provincial competition.
The opposition is unlikely to be especially challenging, but it is an opportunity for the Pakistanis to get used to local conditions at a ground just 60 kilometres (37 miles) from the venue for the first Test.
Arthur, who coached South Africa from 2005 until 2010, told journalists he believed his young batsmen will cope better with conditions in South Africa than the low, slow pitches of the UAE.
“There are some very talented young batsmen there. They don’t stand on leg stump anymore. Our batsmen get to off stump, they cover the bounce, they cover the pace and they cover the swing.”
Even so, the Tests are likely to be a major challenge in a country where Pakistan have won only two Tests while losing nine on five tours.
South Africa’s bowling will be spearheaded by Kagiso Rabada and fit-again Dale Steyn, although the hosts will be without the retired Morne Morkel and Lungi Ngidi, who has a long-term injury.
Vernon Philander is a serious doubt for the first Test because of a hairline fracture on his right thumb.
Pakistan have their own injury concerns, with fast bowler Mohammad Abbas and opening batsman Fakhar Zaman undergoing treatment in a bid to get them fit for the first Test.
The Tests will be followed by five one-day internationals in which both teams will be looking to settle on combinations ahead of the Cricket World Cup in England and Wales, starting on May 30.
There will also be three Twenty20 internationals — a format in which Pakistan top the international rankings.
Kohli scripts history, makes clean sweep of ICC awards
Dubai :Indian skipper Virat Kohli has become the first player in history to win the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for the Intenational Cricket Council (ICC) Cricketer of the Year, the Men’s Test Player of the Year and the ODI Player of the Year awards following an extraordinary 2018.
Not only is Kohli the first player to win these three major ICC awards together, but he has also been named the captain of the ICC Test and ODI teams of the year for a fabulous run in the international cricket.
Kohli scored a total of 1,322 runs at an average of 55.08 in 13 Tests with five hundreds during the calendar year, while in 14 ODIs he amassed 1,202 runs at an astonishing average of 133.55 with six centuries. He also scored 211 runs in 10 T20Is.
The 30-year-old from Delhi, who first came into limelight when he led India to victory at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in Malaysia in 2008, finished the year as the top-ranked batsman in Tests and ODIs.
The highest scorer in both forms of the game in 2018, he was one of only two batsmen to score more than 1,000 runs in Tests and only among three to do so in ODI cricket.
Kohli was the unanimous choice of the ICC Voting Academy for the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy with South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada coming in second to him for both this award and the ICC Test Player of the Year award. Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan was runner up to Kohli for the ICC ODI Player of the Year award.
Ecstatic to receive the honour, “It feels amazing. It’s a reward for all the hard work that you do throughout the calendar year. I feel really grateful and very, very happy with the team doing well at the same time myself performing. Having recognition at the global level from the ICC is something you feel proud of as a cricketer because you understand that there are many players playing the game.”
“To be rewarded in this manner from amongst all of them is obviously a very proud moment for me and something that gives you more motivation to keep repeating the same things because you have to keep the standard of cricket up and keep bringing in consistent performances. From that point of view, these awards give you that extra motivation,” he added.
Meanwhile, ICC Chief Executive David Richardson praised Kohli as well asl every cricketer who picked the award during the world body’s annual awards.
“Sincere congratulations to every one of our individual winners and those players named in our ICC Test and ODI teams of the year. Special mention must go to Virat Kohli, who becomes the first ever player to win the Sir Garfield Sobers award along with Test Player of the Year and ODI Player of the Year and be named as captain of both teams,” he said.
Richardson stressed that in order to be recognized as a true cricketing great, one need to be successful in all format of the game and Kohli has become a great ambassador for our sport.
“This is well-deserved recognition for an extraordinary talent. His regard for the game and particularly for Test cricket is also recognized and appreciated. He is passionate in his support of the longest form of the game and its continued importance,” he said.
Kohli had won the Sir Garfield Trophy and ICC ODI Player of the Year awards last year and was also the ICC ODI Player of the Year in 2012.
‘Kohli will break all records created by Tendulkar’
Karachi:Pakistan’s legendary batsman Zaheer Abbas joined the bandwagon of former greats terming Indian captain Virat Kohli as the best batsman in world cricket who will break all the records of Sachin Tendulkar.
Kohli currently has 39 ODI hundreds and is only 10 short of Tendulkar’s 49.
Appearing on the Gsports show on GTV News channel, Zaheer advised cricket pundits to always keep in mind the era, conditions and opposition while assessing a batsman.
“I think at the moment Virat is the best. He will break all the records. But not only Virat, the Indian team has other top batsmen too. If you look at Rohit Sharma, you are just delighted to watch his strokes. One can only appreciate the beauty of his strokes. The variety of strokes in possession of Indian batsmen counts a lot,” Abbas said.
It all boils down to skills, said Abbas, who was considered a batting artist during his best years.
“Obviously, the confidence will come when you have so many strokes and when you know how to stay at the wicket. These skills don’t come easily. It takes time and hard work and one needs to develop a system for this,” he said.
Zaheer, who played 78 Tests and 62 ODIs, was also candid in stating that even top Pakistani batsmen Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq had still not reached that standard.
“They are our players and I want to see our batsmen do very well. But at this stage, they have not reached that standard that I can feel proud of. They haven’t come up to world standards as yet,” he said.
Abbas said there was a time when Pakistan used to beat India regularly but in recent times the neighbouring country’s cricket structure had improved a lot and their system is producing some top quality players.
“Not only their batsmen but even their bowlers. They have improved a lot and this is because their board had the foresight to set up the MRF pace academy years back and get Dennis Lillee as their first coach to help groom their pacers,” he said.
“India at this moment is a top side. Their standards have improved a lot, especially after the IPL because they don’t allow their players to go and play anywhere else.
They are giving so much financial security to their players.”
Pant is ICC’s Emerging Cricketer of 2018
Dubai:India’s young wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant was on Tuesday named as the ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year 2018.
“Congratulations to @RishabPant777, the ICC Men’s Emerging Cricketer of the Year 2018!,” ICC tweeted.
Pant is the first Indian wicketkeeper to score a Test century in England and Australia. The youngster also equalled the record for the most catches taken in a Test, with 11 during the Adelaide Test in December.
Left-handed Pant produced some fine knocks during the voting period and getting off the mark in Test cricket with a six only highlighted his potential. He scored 537 runs with a century and two fifties in eight Tests during the voting period with 40 catches and two stumpings. In three ODIs, he scored 41 runs and took three catches and in eight T20Is scored 114 runs and pouched two catches.