South Africa aim to continue momentum

South Africa and Pakistan are the last two sides to begin their final World Cup preparations as their five-match series gets underway at Centurion Park on Sunday. Both sides have issues to resolve, although it is Pakistan with most questions to answer.
Their 10-wicket hammering in the Twenty20 International was a harsh reintroduction to limited overs action and, although too much shouldn't be read into the defeat, it certainly showed Pakistan at their worst.

The fresh faces brought in following the 2-1 Test series defeat hardly inspired. Graeme Smith and Loots Bosman feasted on the bowling and the batting line-up was undone by some fine seam and swing bowling. Abdul Razzaq and Shahid Afridi, two experts at one-day level, appeared short on form and must up their game over the next five matches.

Bob Woolmer was less than impressed by his side at the Wanderers: "I was very disappointed with both the batting and the bowling and we have to pull up our socks in both departments."

Mohammad Asif will strengthen the bowling attack after resting for the Twenty20 but the decision to send Danish Kaneria home leaves the spin department exposed. Pakistan are hopeful that Inzamam-ul-Haq will have recovered from his back problem to lead the side and the batting could also do with his guidance. Kamran Akmal played purely as a batsman on Friday and his role could be anyway from opener to No. 7.

South Africa, too, have a question mark over the top order. AB de Villiers' poor Test season has left him under pressure for a place, although his dynamic fielding is a major asset in the one-day team. Bosman showed his clean-hitting ability in the Twenty20 and could slot in alongside Smith as de Villiers slips down the order. Who misses out when Herschelle Gibbs returns from his ban can be left for another day.

"There are a couple of different scenarios when it comes to replacing Herschelle," said Mickey Arthur, "but otherwise we would like to start with the side that finished against India. You can almost consider that our best XI."

On the bowling front South Africa are spoilt for choice and, coming at the end of a packed season, it won't be a surprise to see Smith and Arthur employ an Australian-style rotation system during the series.

South Africa (probable) Graeme Smith (capt), Loots Bosman, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince, AB de Villiers, Justin Kemp, Mark Boucher (wk), Shaun Pollock, Andrew Hall, Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel

Pakistan (from) Inzamam-ul-Haq (capt), Younis Khan, Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Imran Farhat, Imran Nazir, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Yousuf, Naved-ul-Hasan, Shabbir Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul, Yasir Hameed, Zulqarnain Haider