Mickey Arthur, the Pakistan coach, is buoyant of his team’s chances in the Test series in South Africa.
The side have travelled to South Africa after losing their Test series against New Zealand, but Arthur is convinced the team is coming together well.
“We have a very exciting, young team that’s starting to gel well together,” Arthur said on Saturday, 15 December. “We’ve played unbelievable white ball cricket, our 50-over team is on the up, our T20 has been exceptional, but we are trying to build up a Test team at the moment.
On the pacy South African wickets, Arthur was excited about what the Pakistani quicks could do. Mohammed Amir is back in the squad, and joins Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi and Faheem Ashraf as pace options.
“Our attack is exceptionally skillful in all conditions. The one thing we do know is that we’ve got a bowling attack that can take 20 wickets comfortably,” insisted the coach.
“Our challenge is getting ourselves to 350, 400. If we can get runs on the board, we know that we can get 20 wickets and we can bowl in all conditions.”
The emphasis for the team is on the batting. In recent series, they have been prone to collapses – while they stuck it out to win against Australia, it proved costly against New Zealand. Yet, while being very aware of the challenge of playing against the South African pace attack, Arthur insisted his batsmen travelled well.
“I’ve told our batting group, that they bat better outside the UAE than they do in the UAE. They batted exceptionally well in England. There are some very talented young batters there, who bat on off stump not on leg stump any more, cover the bounce, the pace and swing,” he said. “They play very, very well in these conditions.”
For the South African-born Arthur, the tour is a bit of a homecoming and a chance to meet family in the holiday season. But he insisted his focus was all cricket. “No holiday,” he insisted. “I’ll enjoy only if we win.”