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Sparks will fly in Twenty20

Source - news24.com

South Africa and Pakistan go head to head at the Wanderers on Friday evening in the first Twenty20 game between the two teams with both looking to strike a blow ahead of thier ODI series.

South Africa have played four Twenty20 matches, and have lost three and won just one, against Australia.

Proteas captain Graeme Smith said on Thursday that he was not too concerned about the team's record.

"We have experimented quite a lot in terms of our Pro20 squad," he said.

"We have given opportunities to quite a few guys who've done well at domestic level. I think our natural one-day team, who've performed well over the last two years, often haven't really played in the Pro20.

"As the Twenty20 World Cup draws closer, we'll start working towards our best squad. I think giving the guys who've played the most at domestic level to come here and perform well, is right. It gives them a chance to stake a claim.

"Tomorrow (Friday) night we'll be out to win. It's huge excitement, a huge adrenalin, rush.

"It's a big step up for the new guys. One international fixture and you expect the guys to do well. The guys really need to be at their best tomorrow."

The Proteas captain said he thought the 20-over format was of great benefit to cricket.

"It teaches the guys to play well under pressure, and they also learn to get going immediately," he said. "I'd like to see it growing, but the problem is fitting it into a crowded international schedule.

Test cricket is getting stronger, and one-day cricket has its own place, so it's hard to see where Twenty20 fits in."

The Pakistan vice-captain Younis Khan said his team were looking forward to the match.

"There's always a lot of excitement," he said. "It helps people who don't have the time to spend five days at a Test match, but can have the fun of watch a short match like this.

"It's all about having fun, and doing something for the crowd," he said.

"I like to go out, face for or five balls, and then bang, bang!"

Asked about teammate Shah Afridi, who has the record for the fastest century (37-balls), in limited overs cricket, Younis laughed. "He just hits a few in the dressing room and then goes out and it's bang, bang straight away."

He said that although the national team had played only one 20-over match, there was a domestic tournament in Pakistan which was very popular.

"We enjoyed our only international match so far - we beat England," he said.

Smith celebrated his 26th birthday on Thursday, and was presented with an enormous cake in the shape of a batting helmet. He said his hopes for the coming year were that he would contribute to the team's success with the bat, as well as with his captaincy.

"I'm feeling good about my game," he said.

Reflecting on his four years as captain of the team, Smith said there had obviously been highs and lows.

"For one thing, we've had several coaches, and I've had to get used to them and working with them," he said. "But I think I can honestly say I've never been as comfortable in my job as team captain as I am now."

The Twenty20 match starts at 18:00 on Friday evening. The first one-day international will be played at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Sunday.

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