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Security playing on South African minds

South Africa skipper Graeme Smith said his team had put security fears to one side and were mentally ready to take on Pakistan in Friday's series opener.

india Updated: Oct 02, 2003 14:59 IST
PTI

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

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

South Africa cancelled the tour because of security concerns last month before it was hastily rescheduled with a shortened itinerary days later.

Matches in the violence-wracked city of Karachi and Peshawar were ditched from the new schedule, while Pakistan authorities drafted police and soldiers in to provide a ring of steel around each of the tourists' games.

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 commandoes 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 runners-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-nation one-day trophy to England and squared the five-match Test series 2-2 against England.

"We have come here with a lot of positives after the England tour and we're looking to improve on a lot of things.

"Weve come here to win, definitely, but its 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 its 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 are confident after beating Bangladesh 5-0 in last month's one-dayers.

"South Africa are definitely a tougher opponent than Bangladesh but our boys are very confident and I hope we keep the winning sequence," said Inzamam, who took over after Rashid Latif resigned last month.

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.

Pakistan (from): Inzamam-ul Haq (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Yasir Hameed, Yousuf Youhana, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq, Rashid Latif, Saqlain Mushtaq, Mushtaq Ahmed, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Sami, Shabbir Ahmed, Umer Gul, Salman Butt, Faisal Iqbal.

South Africa (from): Graeme Smith (captain), Mark Boucher, Jacques Kallis, Shaun Pollock, Neil McKenzie, Jacques Rudolph, Robin Peterson, Andrew Hall, Alan Dawson, Makhaya Ntini, Charl Langeveldt, Andre Nel, Boeta Dippenaar, Herschelle Gibbs, Paul Adams.

Umpires: Darrell Hair (AUS) and Aleem Dar (PAK).

Match referee: Clive LIoyd (WIs).