Inzamam-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, has hinted that his side could make a few changes in their starting line-up for the second Test at Port Elizabeth starting January 19. Pakistan were without the services of two in-form players in Mohammad Yousuf and Umar Gul during their seven-wicket defeat at Centurion.
Yousuf, who missed the first Test due to the birth of his daughter, arrived in South Africa to prepare for the second Test. With Gul recovering fast from his ankle strain and Shoaib Akhtar too in contention, the team management have an unenviable task in choosing the bowling combination.
"He [Gul] bowled five overs in the nets today and we hope he will be ready to play," Inzamam told AFP after the defeat.
Yousuf, who piled up 1788 runs in a record-breaking 2006, hoped to carry his form into the series, though he was aware that he was short of match practice.
"I hope Allah would give me the courage to help my team in this tough Test series," Yousuf told The News, a Pakistan-based daily ahead of his departure. "I haven't played any cricket for the last six weeks or so, so naturally it would take me some time to settle down in different conditions in South Africa."
Graeme Smith, the South African captain, was naturally upbeat after his side's third consecutive Test victory and praised left-arm spinner Paul Harris for utilising the conditions to his advantage. He commended Hashim Amla for his temperament in the fourth innings, as his unbeaten 64 guided South Africa to the target in a rain-hit final day.
"We had to work really hard in the middle of the match." said Smith. "We joked that last week (against India in Cape Town) we won at Eden Gardens and this week we won at Lahore. The wickets haven't been natural South African wickets where our fast bowlers have been able to bowl their natural lines.
"He's [Harris] made a big impact and we were able to build pressure on the Pakistan batsmen in the second innings. For Hashim it's the first time at international level he's had to bat out to win a Test match and that's a huge notch on his belt."
Smith was wary of a Pakistan fightback in the next two games and added that the team have their work cut out against Yousuf, in particular. "In South Africa we have dealt with him pretty well," Smith said. "We have had decent game plans against him so we will have go back and review those plans.