JOHANNESBURG, Jan 21: Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq said on Monday that Proteas fast bowler Vernon Philander will be one of the South African players to watch out for in their Test series next month.
Philander was included in the Proteas squad for the series after missing out in the second Test against New Zealand with a hamstring injury.
“I think the way Philander is bowling is a cause for concern for the batsmen,” Misbah said on Monday while speaking at his first news conference since the Pakistan squad arrived in Johannesburg at the weekend.
“He’s really good with the new ball, swinging it well and hitting the seam. I think the best way is just to stick to your basics and just go there and try and see off these sort of bowlers, and then just capitalise.”
Misbah said his team would have their work cut out against the hosts, who would be strong favourites to clinch the series.
“With the likes of (Hashim) Amla, Jacques Kallis, Graeme Smith, they’ve got everything in their batting lineup. Then they’ve got quality bowlers like (Dale) Steyn, (Morne) Morkel and Philander. They are really a good side and we have to play well against them to put some sort of a show,” said Misbah.
“In our team a lot of young players like Junaid (Khan), Azhar (Ali) and Asad (Shafiq) have been really performing quite well. One good thing is that my boys love to take the challenges and playing the Proteas in their own conditions is a big challenge indeed.”
The veteran player said his side would be keen to prove themselves against the top ranked Proteas in Test cricket.
“This South African team has really done well for the last two-and-half years. But then, we have also proved that we are no pushovers in the last two years or so. So I think this series will be a great contest and I am looking ahead to it.”
Commenting on the continued lull of international cricket in Pakistan, Misbah said the country was losing ground because they could not host foreign teams owing to security concerns and therefore end up playing fewer Test matches.
“As a team it is very difficult when you not playing a format on a regular basis. You really have to work hard. But we have to adjust, you could say it is a limitation for us but we are professionals, we have to do well,” he said.
“We don’t have home series and when you aren’t playing at home then you miss a lot of cricket and you play only about five or six Tests a year when other teams are playing 15 or 16 Tests a year. It really does affect your team.”
Pakistan have not hosted a Test-playing team since armed militants attacked the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009, killing eight Pakistanis and wounding six Sri Lankan players.
Their ‘home’ matches since then have been held at neutral venues, mostly in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, while Pakistan have not played a Test series anywhere since July last year.
Misbah said that the success of the two-match series between a World XI and a Pakistani All Star team in October last year showed that Pakistan could safely host international matches.
“Pakistan is such a big cricketing nation and the world has to think about bringing international cricket back [to Pakistan]. The [National] Twenty20 tournament in Pakistan saw full stadiums for every match. There were no [security] concerns. The people should have international cricket,” he said.—Agencies