SA win toss and bat in Karachi

South African captain Graeme Smith won the toss and elected to bat in the first Test against Pakistan on Monday after Pakistan batsman Mohammad Yousuf pulled out at the last minute.

The 33-year-old Yousuf last week cancelled his contract with a rebel Indian league and made himself available for Pakistan, but chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed said he had asked for more time to reach Test fitness.

”Yousuf told us that he was not fit and lacked form so he opted out of the match on his own,” Ahmed said.

Yousuf, who was declared Test player of 2006 earlier this month for his world record of 1 788 runs in a calendar year, was replaced by Faisal Iqbal.

Pakistan included two spinners in leggie Danish Kaneria and left-armer Abdul Rehman who makes his Test debut.

South Africa left out veteran all-rounder Shaun Pollock despite the fact that rookie paceman Mornie Morkel was ruled out due to a leg injury. Morkel’s place went to fast bowler Andre Nel.

Pollock, who initially showed his disappointment on being dropped, was given a lifeline after Morkel’s injury but the tourists stuck to their plans of not playing the veteran who was dropped for the first time in his 107-Test career.

Meanwhile, Ashwell Prince was named as vice captain for the Test summer and Justin Kemp as deputy for the one-day series.

”Prince will be the vice-captain for this tour and the rest of the season’s Test matches until March-April,” team spokesperson Owen Smith told reporters.

”Kemp has been named vice-captain for the one-day series in Pakistan only.”

The vice captaincy was previously held Kallis, who resigned after being dropped for the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa.

Kallis’s resignation caused uproar in South African cricket with wicketkeeper Mark Boucher facing a disciplinary hearing over remarks he made on the issue.

After the Pakistan tour, South Africa will play New Zealand, West Indies and tour India and Bangladesh. – Sapa-AFP

Teams:

South Africa: Graeme Smith (capt), Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, Herschelle Gibbs, Paul Harris, Jacques Kallis, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Ashwell Prince, Dale Steyn.

Pakistan: Shoaib Malik (capt), Salman Butt, Mohammad Hafeez, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul Haq, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul, Danish Kaneria, Faisal Iqbal, Abdul Rehman.

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