The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pakistan look to stay on victory track

Lahore: South Africa skipper Graeme Smith said his team had put security fears aside and were mentally ready to take on Pakistan in Friday’s opening one-day game in Lahore.

Smith will lead the Proteas in the first game of a five-match series played under unprecedented security as South Africa’s tour of Pakistan finally gets underway in earnest at Gaddafi Stadium.

Smith admitted the long-running debate over security had impacted on his team’s preparations. “I think two weeks of discussing security is definitely going to play on your mind. It definitely plays a role but after our practice and warm up game we are now focusing on cricket,” Smith said.

The local administration has decided to deploy around 2,000 policemen and 150 elite commandos to provide security during the day-night match. Smith said South Africa, like Pakistan, were rebuilding after the World Cup.

“I think in many ways both teams are under similar situation, we have had three months in England where we have done regrouping and we are here for the first time and we are still reorganising ourselves, looking for answers,” said Smith.

Since the World Cup, South Africa have finished runner-up to India in a three-nation one-day event in Bangladesh and beat Bangladesh 2-0 in Tests.

They lost the final of the tri-series in England but squared the five-match Test series 2-2.

“We have come here with a lot of positives after the England tour and we’re looking to improve on a lot of things. We’ve come here to win, definitely, but it’s going to be tough touring conditions so we need to adjust quickly and could be little under-prepared on Friday,” said Smith.

The tourists beat Lahore City XI by eight wickets in a warm-up one-day fixture on Wednesday with Smith and Kallis hitting half centuries.

“We have to make sure that we have the fire and determination on Friday and it’s going to be a tough game for us and we have to make sure to be stand up and be counted,” said Smith, who scored 718 runs in five Tests against England with two back-to-back double hundreds.

Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul Haq said his team is confident after beating Bangladesh 5-0 in last month’s one-dayers.

Pakistan, who have lost 25 of their 36 one-dayers against South Africa, are likely to play the in form leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed who took 105 wickets for Sussex in England.

“Our bowling is our strength but we need to put runs on the board to supplement our bowling,” said Inzamam.

Pakistan is also boosted by the return of express pacer Shoaib Akhtar who missed the one-dayers against Bangladesh as he was playing for Durham County.

Meanwhile, coach Javed Miandad has some tricks up his sleeve to counter South Africa’s top order batsmen. “I think Kallis and Gibbs are dangerous batsmen but I have set plans to catch them,” Miandad said.

He also asked the crowd to behave themselves during the tour.

Miandad said that Smith, who scored two double hundreds in Test matches against England, reminded him of one of the greatest South African player.

“He (Smith) reminds me of Graeme Pollock,” Miandad said. “But I think smith still needs to establish himself. He struggled after the two double tons.”

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