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AFP

Inzamam farewell could distract Pakistan - Smith

Graeme Smith, the South African captain, has said Inzamam-ul-Haq's swansong in international cricket could distract Pakistan in their must-win second Test starting in Lahore on Monday

06-Oct-2007


How Shoaib Malik handles the pressure of leading the team in Inzamam's last Test could be the key for Pakistan, feels Graeme Smith © AFP
Graeme Smith, the South African captain, has said Inzamam-ul-Haq's swansong could be a distraction for Pakistan in their must-win second Test starting in Lahore on Monday. South Africa are 1-0 up in the two-match series after a convincing 160-run victory in Karachi.
"It certainly can be I guess," Smith said, when asked if Pakistan's current captain, Shoaib Malik, could be distracted by having his predecessor in the team. "They have a young captain and how he is going to manage that is going to be key for him. It can put a lot of pressure on him. Inzamam carries a huge aura around him in this set-up, which I have noticed playing against Pakistan in the last two years. It will be key how he [Malik] handles it."
Pakistan also hope Mohammad Yousuf will return to the side after pulling out of the first Test at the last minute, citing lack of match fitness. Smith said how Inzamam and Yousuf fit into Pakistan's squad will be crucial to the outcome of the match.
"Their records are world class, but how they fit back into the set-up is a question mark, how much cricket they have played is another question and what is happening to the pitch in Lahore is going to be another issue," he said. "But it's for them to worry. We need to go from strength to strength and we have given ourselves a wonderful opportunity to win a series in the subcontinent." South Africa lost the two-Test series in Pakistan in 2003-04, but had won 1-0 in 1997-98.
Malik, meanwhile, chose to look to look at the second as a final opportunity to play their three most experienced batsmen in the hope of levelling the series. "We batted poorly in the first Test but with Inzamam and Yousuf coming in the side I hope our batting will be very strong. This is our chance to square the series and we will do our best to do that."