Shoaib Malik believes his young side can transform their Twenty20 form into success during the forthcoming Test series against South Africa. Pakistan finished runners-up to India in the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa, making a remarkable comeback after their disastrous World Cup campaign in West Indies earlier this year.
"South Africa are a very good team so we have to be at our best to beat them. But I am confident that we have some good players who can transform their Twenty20 form into Test cricket," Malik told reporters on his return from Johannesburg.
The Test series will be Malik's first as captain since his appointment in the wake of Pakistan's first-round exit from the World Cup in March. According to him, Pakistan did not miss the experience of senior players such as Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf in the Twenty20 tournament.
"Twenty20 cricket is different, so a player can come good at one time and can fail in the next, so all the available players made the team stronger," Malik said while rejecting suggestions that the pressure of playing rivals India led to their defeat in the final. "No, it's not that we were playing against India, There was no such pressure. We batted poorly and India defended an achievable target of 158. But all in all it was a good final and a very good tournament for Pakistan."
He also felt that Pakistan had made a fresh start in international cricket after months of controversies, including the forfeiture of the Oval Test against England in 2006 and a doping scandal. "The players are very committed and that was proved by their performances," he said. "We don't think about what happened in the past; our focus is on the future, especially on the series against South Africa, then the tour of India and finally on the series against Australia."
Pakistan tour India later this year to play three Tests and five one-day internationals before hosting Australia for the same number of matches in March and April of 2008.
South Africa arrived in Pakistan today for a month-long tour that includes two Tests and five-one day internationals. The first Test starts on October 1 in Karachi.