Pakistan well-equipped to face South Africa challenge, says Mohammad Hafeez

Mohammad Hafeez admitted South Africa pose a big challenge, but said the team was buoyed by its recent one-day win over arch rivals India © Getty Images

Karachi: Jan 15, 2013
Twenty20 captain Mohammed Hafeez was confident that Pakistan‘s lack of Test cricket will not be a problem when the team meet world number one South Africa next month.
Pakistan play three Tests in South Africa with the first match starting in Johannesburg from February 1 — their first Test series in seven months.
Pakistan routed England, then the world’s number one Test team, 3-0 last January before losing 1-0 against Sri Lanka in June.
“Again after a big gap we will play in South Africa but we have adjusted well in the past,” Hafeez told reporters on the sidelines of a five-day domestic tournament final. 
“It’s tough but all the players have played four-day game and are well prepared.”
Pakistan will also play two Twenty20 internationals and five one-day matches on the tour — their first to the Republic since 2007.
Hafeez admitted South Africa pose a big challenge, but said the team was buoyed by its recent one-day win over arch rivals India.
“South Africa will be challenging because the conditions are different. We played there in 2007 and most of the players of that team are not there and South Africa are now the world’s best team,” said Hafeez.
Pakistan fly out to South Africa 10 days in advance and have a tour opener in East London, starting January 25.
“South Africa have a good combination of batting and bowling but we too are going there after winning our series in India which has lifted our morale,” said Hafeez, of Pakistan’s 2-1 one-day win over India.
Hafeez said Pakistan have a balanced bowling attack in both pace and spin.
“We have an emerging bowler in Juniad Khan and then Umar Gul is very experienced,” said Hafeez of the pace spearheads.
“Mohammad Irfan is also progressing well,” said Hafeez of the lanky paceman.
Hafeez said Pakistan’s spin attack is well reputed, with wily off-spinner Saeed Ajmal and left-armer Abdur Rehman — who took 24 and 19 wickets respectively in the United Arab Emirates in the win over England.
Ajmal had born the burden of the bowling attack for the last few years “and Rehman has also supplemented him well, so they will also play an important role”, he said.
But he stressed Pakistan needed to play more Tests. The team did not play a single Test in 2008.
“I think Test cricket produces good-quality cricketers, like we have found Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq from Test cricket. We need to promote Test cricket: if we play only six Tests in a year then it will be tough.
“I think the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) needs to fight for more Tests in the next fixture because you get quality cricketers from Test cricket,” Hafeez said.