Pakistan made full use of their World Cup lead-up match in Lenasia with most of the batsmen and the bowlers getting in some practice before their crucial clash against Australia, a replay of the 1999 final, at the Wanderers on Tuesday, February 11.
Batting first against a Gauteng Invitation XI all the batsmen, except Shahid Afridi, spent valuable time at the crease with Younis Khan top scoring with 50 off 52 balls. Khan, backing up a touch to far at the non-striker end was well run out by Martinus Otto from cover with a brilliant bit of individual fielding.
The experiment of opening the innings with Afridi failed once again as the hard hitting right hand batsman was caught in the slips after spending seven balls at the crease.
Saleem Elahi was solid in making 43 but playing past a Clive Eksteen delivery he was stumped by Ahmed Omar. Eksteen also got rid of Yousuf Youhana, trapped in front for 32, and Abdur Razzaq caught for 22.
Wasim Akram (33*) and Waqar Younis (25*) put on 63 in the final nine overs for Pakistan to post a good 264/7 in the allocated 50 overs.
For Gauteng, Clive Eksteen showed he can still compete against the best, returning figures of 3/46 off his 10 overs.
For the most, the Pakistan batsmen seemed to have learnt something from their recent tour of South Africa and should still be a major threat to any opposition. The balance in the side, with players able to mix aggression with defense, may be one of the best in the tournament.
Gauteng made a very good start with Stephan Cook (61) and Grant Elliot (33) putting on 103 for the second wicket before Razzaq struck three times in four overs to reduce the hosts from 110/1 to 115/4. Bowling some vicious off cutters he got rid of Cook and then clean bowled both Elliot and Vaughn van Jaarsveld with consecutive balls.
With the rain chasing the players off the field after 30 overs and Gauteng on 123/4, Pakistan won by 24 runs (Duckworth/Lewis).
On the bowling side Pakistan will be worried about the form of Shoaib Akhtar, going for 12 runs in his first over, and Shahid Afridi not showing any penetration.
On Thursday, February 6, Pakistan will face Easterns in Benoni giving them another match to hone their skills.