Proteas look to capitalise on depleted Pakistan side

South Africa coach Mickey Arthur hopes his team can take advantage of the absence of Pakistan's leading batsman Mohammad Yousuf in the first Test.

South Africa coach Mickey Arthur hopes his team can take advantage of the absence of Pakistan's leading batsman Mohammad Yousuf in the first Test.

The match in Centurion starts today, but Yousuf's wife is due to give birth in Pakistan imminently.

Arthur said: "I think they're going to miss Yousuf. He's been such an outstanding player for them."

Yousuf was the leading batsman in the world last year, scoring 1788 runs in 11 Tests and racking up nine centuries.

But Arthur is aware that there are other high-class batsmen in the Pakistan side.

He said: "We're expecting Inzamam-ul-Haq to feature strongly, and Younis Khan remains a quality player.

"Among their bowlers, Danish Kaneria and Mohammad Asif stand out as threats."

But two other leading Pakistan players, Shoaib Malik and Umar Gul, are battling ankle injuries and all-rounder Abdul Razzaq misses the series with a torn calf muscle.

By contrast, the hosts are buoyant after coming back from 1-0 down to win their home series against India.

"Having been South Africa coach I know the boys very well; we're going to have to play very well," said Bob Woolmer, Pakistan coach.

All-rounder Shaun Pollock, whose Test career seemed in decline in the middle of last year, shone against India with 187 runs at an average of 37,40 and 13 wickets at 16,00.

"Shaun has been awesome. He's realised the role we need him to play for us and he's doing so wonderfully well," Arthur said.

Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer said Gul needed to pass a fitness test, but stressed he had enough bowlers at his disposal to cover the situation.

Shoaib Akhtar is not quite fit yet and will not even arrive in the country in time to play the first Test. - BBC

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