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.
ICC World Cup 2019: Team India to don new jersey for away matches
The hype surrounding the ongoing World Cup in England and Wales is on an escalation with the tournament only a week away. The mega event is scheduled to get underway on May 30 and Team India is deemed as one of the favourites to get their hands on the coveted trophy. All the teams wear special kits for the World Cup and the Indian team also had unveiled their jersey for the tournament, however, there’s an addition to it.
As per the ICC’s World Cup schedule, the teams have home and away matches. The Men in Blue will not actually be completely Blue when they play those away games. The Indian team will play with a new and differently coloured clothing for all the away matches in the tournament. Their first match is against South Africa on June 5 at the Rose Bowl in Southampton.
Their away matches are versus Afghanistan on June 22 at The Rose Bowl in Southampton and versus hosts England on June 30 at the Edgbaston in Birmingham. As many as four teams- England, India, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan- have blue as their preferred colour. However, since England are the hosts, the other teams will have to change their colours when they lock horns with the Eoin Morgan-led Brits.
Different outfits for Team India
India’s jersey is yet to be released and will see the players wear a darker blue in the front, whereas orange will dominate the sleeves as well as the back.
On the other hand, teams like Pakistan, Bangladesh and South Africa have a common colour – green jerseys. As a result, these teams will also need to look for alternatives for a few matches in the tournament. Australia, Windies and New Zealand should not have to change the colours since they already having distinct jerseys.
The opening match of the World Cup will be played between hosts England and South Africa at the Kennington Oval in London. Apart from India, England are also on the expected winner’s list for the 50-overs tournament as they are ICC’s number-one ranked ODI team at the moment.
ICC World Cup 2019: Sachin Tendulkar picks his semi-finalists ahead of WC
Legendary India cricketer Sachin Tendulkar has given his opinion into which four teams he feels will enter the semi-finals of the ICC World Cup 2019 which is scheduled to be played between May 30 and July 14 in England and Wales.
“India, England, Australia should be in the semis. The fourth could be one of New Zealand or Pakistan,” Tendulkar was quoted as saying by ESPN Cricinfo. ((Complete coverage of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019))
Earlier, speaking to Hindustan Times, Tendulkar had said India have a well-balanced squad and they are capable of pulling off something special in UK.
“We have a balanced team which can go out and do something special. The whole team has to chip in, there will be some performers (in different situations, who must say) ‘this is my game; I am batting well or bowling well’. Support is needed from the other end also,” the Master Blaster said.
Tendulkar also heaped praise on wicket-keeper batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni and said he has a big role to play for Team India.
“Not only in batting, also behind the stumps. He has got the best view; the batters are always looking for the gaps and what areas to target. Standing behind the batsmen, he can see that. He has plenty of suggestions to make and that would come in handy,” Tendulkar said.
“His contribution will be in the form of an experienced keeper observing the game and making suggestions. Also, his experience while batting—how to play those critical moments, how to rotate the strike, when to strike, and when to just build a partnership—will count.”
The first match of the World Cup will be played between England and South Africa on May 30 while India open their campaign against South Africa on June 5.
Before that, the ‘Blue Brigade’ will take on New Zealand and Bangaldesh in two practice matches on Saturday and Tuesday respectively.
India’s 15-member squad: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami.
Shakib tops ICC ODI all-rounders list
Dubai: Senior Bangladesh cricketer Shakib Al Hasan Wednesday jumped to the top of the latest MRF Tyres ICC ODI rankings for all-rounders, which doesn’t feature a single Indian in the top-10 chart.
Shakib, 32, grabbed the top spot just ahead of the ODI World Cup after showcasing fine form during the tri-nation series in Ireland, which Bangladesh famously won to claim their first title in a multi-nation tournament.
In the three matches of the series, Shakib totalled 140 runs, including two unbeaten half-centuries and also picked up two wickets.
Shakib now has 359 points, 20 clear of Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan, the previous holder of the top ranking, who has now slipped to No. 2.
Rashid’s Afghanistan team-mate Mohammad Nabi completes the top three, with 319 points.
Pakistan are the only other team to have two players in the top 10, with Imad Wasim at No. 4 and Mohammad Hafeez claiming the seventh spot.
They are separated by New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner (No.5) and England’s Chris Woakes, who leapfrogged four places to No. 6.
West Indies captain Jason Holder is their top-ranked all-rounder at number eight spot followed by Zimbabwe’s Sikandar Raza and Angelo Mathews of Sri Lanka.England’s Ben Stokes missed out on the top 10 by one spot, finishing eight points behind Mathews.
Kedar Jadhav, who is part of India’s World Cup team and is recovering from a shoulder injury, is the best-placed Indian at joint 12th spot alongside South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo and Moeen Ali of England.
Hardik Pandya completes the top 20 list.
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