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sout africa vs pakistan

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KARACHI (AFP) - Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik said Sunday his team will not attempt to match South Africa's pace and will instead focus on their own strengths ahead of the Test series opener here.

"They (South Africa) have six fast bowlers and one spinner, so we are not going to play on their strength," Malik said. "We will play on our strength and would do our best to win" the first Test starting here Monday.

Pakistan are likely to play with leg-spinner Danish Kaneria and left-armer Abdul Rehman on a dry and well-prepared National Stadium pitch.

Malik leads a new-look Pakistan team that is without experienced batsman Inzamam-ul Haq and express paceman Shoaib Akhtar. However, Malik, leading Pakistan for the first time in a Test, remains unperturbed.

"I am not nervous because I have played a lot of Tests and nothing is challenging if you have the commitment to do well," said Malik, who took over from Inzamam after Pakistan's first-round exit in the World Cup in the West Indies in March.

Akhtar was sent back from the Twenty20 world championships in South Africa earlier this month after hitting teammate Mohammad Asif and is unlikely to play in the two-Test series.

But Pakistan can call on the services of batsman Mohammad Yousuf, who agreed to play for his country after cancelling a contract with a breakaway Indian league.

Malik already has success under his belt as skipper, leading Pakistan to a 2-1 win over Sri Lanka in a one-day tri-series in May and finishing runners-up in the Twenty20 world championships.

He is confident other batsmen can step up and fill Inzamam's shoes.

"Cricketers come and go but Inzamam was a world class player and will be missed but I think the available batsmen can come good for us in the Test," said Malik, Pakistan's 25th captain in Tests.

South African captain Graeme Smith said his team were ready to face the spin test.

"The pitch looks dry and well-prepared. It's a kind of wicket we expect going into the first Test in the subcontinent because you have a preconceived idea about what you're going to get here. It's certainly what we expected," said Smith of the brownish pitch.

South Africa sweat on the fitness of rookie paceman Morne Morkel, who hurt his left leg during the tourists' only warm-up match, which ended in a draw on Saturday.

Veteran all-rounder Shaun Pollock or Andre Nel will come into the reckoning if Morkel fails to recover. The tourists will be banking on left-arm spinner Paul Harris -- someone Smith said has a major role to play.

"Harris is obviously going to play an important role. He's quite a confident guy, which is good. He's quite up for taking responsibility for his position which is always encouraging from a spin bowler in the subcontinent," said Smith.

The South African captain said high temperatures in this southern port city will also be a worry for the tourists.

"Heat is going to play a role at some stage in the match.... We have come out of the winter in South Africa so we have to manage that as best as we can," said Smith of the 39 degree Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit) temperatures
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