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25-Oct-2010 16:08:00 GMT
Pakistan v South Africa, 1st T20, Abu Dhabi

SA Begin as Favourites, Pakistan Seek to Focussed on Cricket

Abu Dhabi: Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi hoped his beleaguered side is focused enough to counter a spirited South African team in the back-to-back Twenty20 matches starting on Tuesday.

Pakistan's recent tour to England was rocked by spot-fixing allegations which prompted a Scotland Yard investigation and the suspension of three of their players by the International Cricket Council.

Test captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer were charged for violating various code of conduct during the Lord's Test against England in August, a controversy which Afridi said is a thing of the past.

"My players are professional and have put all the controversy behind them," Afridi said at the launching ceremony of the series in which Pakistan will also play five one-day internationals and two Tests.

The series is Pakistan's home series shifted to United Arab Emirates over security fears.

Afridi said the team has ample talent to counter the South Africans.

"We know we are without two of our best bowlers in Aamer and Asif," said Afridi of the two suspended bowlers. "But we still have ample talent to counter South Africa who are a very good side in the shorter form of the game."

South African captain Johan Botha agreed Pakistan will miss the talent of Asif and Aamer.

"You always miss quality players and surely Pakistan will miss the two (suspended) bowlers, but we too have injury problems in the team and when such things happen other players step in," said Botha.

Allrounder Jacques Kallis and fast bowlers Morne Morkel and Dale Styen were still recovering from various injuries and may not be able to play the first Twenty 20.

Botha hoped at least two of the three players will be available for the second Twenty 20, also to be played on Wednesday.

"Playing Pakistan is always a great challenege and they knocked us out in two major Twenty20 matches," said Botha of Pakistan's wins over South Africa in the second and third World Twenty20 in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

The two sides play the first two one-day in Abu Dhabi before the last three limited over matches in Dubai.

Dubai will also stage the first Test, while the second will be played in Abu Dhabi.

Team from

Shahid Afridi (capt), Imran Farhat, Mohammad Hafeez, Shahzaib Hasan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Younis Khan, Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq, Fawad Alam, Abdul Razzaq, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Wahab Riaz, Abdur Rehman, Shoaib Akhtar, Tanvir Ahmed, Zulqarnain Haider

South Africa Johan Botha (capt), Loots Bosman, AB de Villiers, Jean-Paul Duminy, Colin Ingram, Jacques Kallis, David Miller, Graeme Smith, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Rusty Theron, Lonwabo Tsotsobe

Stats and trivia

  • The Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi will be hosting its first Twenty20 international between two Test-playing nations. The two matches that have been played here - Afghanistan v Scotland and Kenya v Netherlands - were quite low-scoring, with an average score of 127.75.
  • Two of the three Twenty20 matches played between the teams have come in the World Twenty20, in 2009 and 2010, both won by Pakistan. South Africa won the first game between the two sides, in 2007.

Matches facts
October 26 and 27, 2010
Start time 20:00 local (16:30 GMT)

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