Cricket - All fine in Pakistan camp

Pakistan one-day captain Misbah-ul-Haq has dismissed talk of a rift with Twenty20 skipper Mohammad Hafeez ahead of Sunday's first ODI against South Africa in Bloemfontein.

PA Sport
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Reports in Pakistan suggested the pair had rowed during a warm-up game earlier this week, with Hafeez's position in the batting order supposedly the point of contention. The Pakistan Cricket Board swiftly quashed such claims by issuing a statement on Friday denying any such disagreement, though, and Misbah too insists the squad is a happy one.

Misbah hit out at what he labelled "irresponsible and baseless" reporting on the eve of the series opener against the Proteas. Quoted on, he said: "People who are putting out those stories should be ashamed of that."

He added: "The team is like a family. We are playing here like a family. We all support each other and there is nothing wrong."

Pakistan's ODI squad head into the encounter at Chevrolet Park on the back of a 2-1 series triumph against India earlier this year. Misbah will be counting on his spinners to make things difficult for South Africa during this month's five-match series.

"Our spinners are world class and can really bowl well in any sort of conditions, especially in ODI games where we have to restrict the opposition by bowling dot balls," he said. "In the one-day format, we can always put up a good show. South Africa are a good side, but they will find it a little difficult in this format."

South Africa ODI captain AB de Villiers, meanwhile, believes his side are back on track after their 2-1 series defeat against New Zealand in January.

De Villiers insists his team have learned lessons and taken positives from the Black Caps loss - particularly from the whitewash-avoiding one-wicket win at Potchefstroom and from how Faf du Plessis stepped up as captain after De Villiers was suspended for a slow over-rate in the first match.

"We always reflect after a series - the things we did well and things we didn't do too well, and there was lots of room for improvement after the New Zealand series," the wicketkeeper-batsman said.

"There were glimpses of good cricket from us - Faf du Plessis did well as captain coming in out of nowhere and being put under pressure. That last ODI win was really important for us as a unit, but we certainly needed to improve and we've worked hard to cover all the bases over the last three days."

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