Switch from Twenty20 to Tests will challenge players - Alam
Intikhab Alam, the Pakistan coach, has cautioned his team ahead of the tour to Sri Lanka, saying it would be a challenge for his players to make a successful transition to another format following Pakistan's win in the ICC World Twenty20 in England.
Pakistan haven't had many opportunities to play Test cricket over the last year and a half because other teams have refused to tour the country due to security fears. Pakistan hosted a short series against Sri Lanka earlier this year - which was cut short due to the Lahore attacks - but it was their first series in over 14 months.
"The weather and playing conditions in Sri Lanka are not easy and we will chalk up a strategy after considering all aspects to field the best combination against them," Alam told Dawn. "Hot weather is not a problem for us but humidity can create problems, especially for the fast bowlers."
The team includes only two specialist openers in Salman Butt and the inexperienced Khurram Manzoor, but Alam wasn't too worried about the combination. He also supported the selection of seamer Abdur Rauf, the fifth-highest wicket-taker in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy with 53 wickets in nine games. Other fast bowlers like Sohail Tanvir, Rao Iftikhar Anjum and Yasir Arafat were overlooked for the tour.
"Yes, we have two openers who must perform to the best of their abilities," Alam said. "Besides, we need to give them confidence that they have to play all three matches.
"Abdur Rauf is fast improving and his performance in the last domestic season earned him a place in the national team. I do hope for him to come up to expectations."
Alam said Shahid Afridi, who requested to be rested for the Test series, will be missed in the spin department but was confident the specialists like Saeed Ajmal and Danish Kaneria can shoulder the attack well.
Pakistan will have a new captain for their one-off Twenty20 match on August 12 following Younis Khan's decision to retire from the format. Alam admitted that has was surprised at Younis' decision, and added that it would be ideal to have a single captain for all three formats.
"He didn't talk to us about it," Alam said. "His announcement came as a surprise to me as well.
"Having one captain for Tests, ODIs and T20 cricket means you have more harmony in the team and the players are also comfortable with their captain. The communication levels improve a lot within the team."
The PCB chairman Ijaz Butt said he would persuade Younis to change his mind. 'I'll convince Younus to continue with his captaincy," Butt told reporters. "In Sri Lanka we are scheduled to play only one T20 match so this will be no big issue for him."
The tour includes a three-Test series, starting July 4 and five ODIs before winding up with the Twenty20.