PCB want Australia and New Zealand to play in Pakistan in 2018

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Sethi is hoping for some more international cricket in Pakistan in 2018.

Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Najam Sethi has declared that he will try to convince Australia and New Zealand to play in the country during 2018.

In a video message to outline plans for the new year, the PCB chief spoke about how 2017 had been a great year for Pakistan with the ICC Champions Trophy win among other things.

“Champions Trophy win was a greatest moment in our history. Beating India, what a wonderful day, what a great day,” Sethi recounted about the win at the Oval in London.

“We are now on track. We have achieved top position in T20Is and hopefully we will achieve the same in ODIs too very soon,” he added

Pakistan are due to host Australia and New Zealand in October and November this year in the UAE. Sethi is hoping to make use of this opportunity to get the two teams to play a match or two in Pakistan instead.

“I have already started efforts to try and convince Australia and New Zealand to play one or two matches in Pakistan,” he said in the video message.

The country saw the partial resumption of international cricket in the country after a long hiatus with the visit of the ICC World XI and Sri Lanka along with the final of the Pakistan Super League – all of which were held in Lahore.

2017 saw the ICC World XI play a T20I series in Lahore.

2017 saw the ICC World XI play a T20I series in Lahore.

“We hosted the PSL final, then World XI team came and then Sri Lanka arrived and played in Pakistan. West Indies will come and play in Pakistan in March,” he said.

With three matches being scheduled in Pakistan for the fourth edition of the PSL, Sethi hoped it would spark a revival of international cricket in the country.

With Pakistan experiencing a resurgence in international cricket under Sarfraz Ahmed’s leadership, Sethi believes the team is capable of continuing that winning form this year.

“Last year was very good for cricket. PCB and our team have achieved a lot in 2017. It was the collective dedication and team spirit that we did well. We are on a winning streak and it will continue,” he stressed.

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Best pictures as South Africa and India prepare for first Test at Newlands

The preparations are in full swing in both the camps as India and South Africa await the start of the first Test at Cape Town on January 5.

And as players from both teams sweat it out in the net sessions ahead of the Test series, we bring you some of the best pictures.

Cape Town’s worst drought in decades may take some of the sting out of the Newlands pitch for the first Test between South Africa and India, starting on Friday.

There was a covering of green grass on the match surface when both teams practised on Tuesday, bringing a smile to the face of South African coach Ottis Gibson.

But groundsman Evan Flint said the grass was thin and that the weather conditions had made it difficult to produce the seam-friendly surface which the home side would like.

There was some unseasonal light rain on Sunday and Monday – about four-and-half millimetres in total – but not enough to break the prolonged drought.

“It made conditions a bit quicker,” said Flint

Flint has had to use borehole water and has been restricted to watering the outfield only twice a week, which means the playing area is drier under the surface than usual.

“I think if the fast bowlers bowl well enough, there will be something in it for them,” said Flint. But he did not expect conditions would give a lot of assistance to South Africa’s pace attack.

“It depends on who adapts quicker on the day – it is not necessarily favouring anyone,” said Flint.

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South Africa 'have plans in place' for Kohli and India

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The first Test between the two sides gets underway on Friday.

South Africa coach Ottis Gibson has declared that the Proteas will have plans in place for Virat Kohli and his India team-mates in the upcoming three-match Test series beginning on Friday at Newlands.

Speaking to the media ahead of the first Test, the former England bowling coach said he does not expect Kohli to have the same impact as he did against his former side towards the end of 2016.

The Indian skipper had then struck two centuries and as many fifties to lead the hosts to a 4-0 series victory over England.

“They (India) were too good for us,” Gibson said.

“They played really well and were led very well by the captain, who got a lot of runs. There were times in those conditions where we couldn’t get him out,” he added.

“I think in these conditions it will be a lot different. We’ll have some plans for him as we will for every other player in the team,” Gibson replied when asked if Kohli could recreate the same magic on South African shores.

Gibson is staying cautious with Dale Steyn's return to international cricket.

Gibson is staying cautious with Dale Steyn’s return to international cricket.

The Proteas coach has a selection headache ahead of the first Test with Dale Steyn returning to international cricket after a long injury lay-off.

“He’s had a year off,” said Gibson about the long-time number one bowler in the world, who is recovering from a serious shoulder injury.

“He might well play this weekend, depending on the make-up of the team.

“I wouldn’t think that if you were to pick a three-man seam attack plus a spinner that you would want to put him into that three-man attack in case something happened. It would leave you too vulnerable in case he doesn’t finish a game.”

Indian top-order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, meanwhile, continued the message of confidence that has been a hallmark of the Indian party since they arrived in South Africa.

“Our preparation has been fantastic so far,” said Pujara. “We are very confident.”

Pujara has expressed confidence in India's preparation.

Pujara has expressed confidence in India’s preparation.

Pujara said the Indians had been getting ready for the tour since their three home Tests against Sri Lanka in November and December, with pitches prepared to be as much like those in South Africa as possible.

“When we were playing Sri Lanka we had this series in mind. Obviously it was different from what we might get here but we tried replicating what we could. Even in our net practices we had in mind that we would be touring South Africa and we were trying to practise accordingly,” said Pujara.

Pujara is on his third tour of South Africa. “Most of our players have been here before,” he said. “We are not bothered about the kind of pitch that is prepared. Bounce is always a challenge but we know what to expect from the pitch and the opposition. When you have spent some time on these pitches you know what to do.”

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