Pakistan v SA

Proteas aim for top Test spot

2010-11-11 22:47
Graeme Smith (Gallo Images)
Eduan Roos

Dubai – Next year's World Cup tournament is not on the agenda for now and with an opportunity to soon dethrone India as the world's premier Test side, South Africa can't afford to be slow out of the starting blocks on Friday.

This is what Graeme Smith, the Proteas captain, says about the first of two cricket Tests against Pakistan, which begin on Friday morning.

The touring side has already won the Twenty20 and the one day series and according to him the team is now a step closer to wearing the cricket limited overs crown.

"It is difficult to think of anything but the World Cup but we realise this is an incredibly important series," Smith said on Thursday.

"There are, however, only five Tests between us and the top spot on the world rankings and believe me, the guys want that spot."

Smith and the team will tackle India from next month and a clean sweep victory over the Pakistanis will almost wipe out the gap between the Proteas and Gary Kirsten's number one team.

"It will be fantastic to come back to the country with three trophies because it is never easy to win away from home," said Smith.

"Our preparation for this Test was all but ideal, seeing as how we only had a few days to switch from limited overs to Test cricket. On top of this, there are a few new players who have just arrived and who will have to adjust very quickly."

That is why adaptability will be key, he believes.

"The players' self-confidence is high after the one day series but it is again 0-0 and we don't regard ourselves as the favourites at all."

"Pakistan have over the past few weeks showed that they can compete, with lots of experience and almost a home field advantage. The team that will do best in strange and testing conditions, will come out on top."

Friday is the first time that Test cricket will be played in the International Stadium and will be the first time since 1912 that South Africa have played this version of the game on a neutral field.

"We are still not completely sure what the wicket will be like and that is why we will only take the final decision about the starting team shortly before the match," said Smith.

He admitted that the temptation to have two spinners in the team was big, and give up one of Dale Steyn, Morné Morkel or Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

"This will depend on how the wicket looks (on Friday), as well as on the game plan we have agreed on."

Read more on:    pvp  |  graeme smith  |  proteas

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