South Africa arrive in Pakistan to tight security

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KARACHI, Sep 26 (Reuters) South Africa's cricketers were met by a strong security contingent when they flew into Karachi at the start of their month-long tour of Pakistan today.

The 13 players and 14 officials were whisked away from the airport to their hotel in a heavily guarded police motorcade.

The three-day match against a Patron's XI which starts on Thursday will be South Africa's first match in this southern city for 11 years. They decided not to playing here in 2003 for security reasons.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has made tight security arrangements for the Proteas following a surge in attacks since a military assault against a Taliban-led movement in an Islamabad mosque killed 102 people in July. More than 260 people have been killed in the attacks.

Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik arrived in Karachi on the same flight as the South African squad and said his young team, who reached the Twenty20 World Cup final against India on Monday, were in good spirits.

''The confidence and morale of the players is high and we are confident of doing well in the test series against South Africa,'' he said.

NEW ERA Second place in the Twenty20 tournament had allowed Pakistan to redeem themselves after their early exit from the World Cup in the Caribbean in March, Malik said.

''I think this tournament is the start of a new era for Pakistan cricket. I am happy we have been able to turn a corner after our poor performance in the main World Cup.'' Pakistani selectors were still uncertain about the team for the first test starting in Karachi on Monday.

Record-breaking batsman Mohammad Yousuf, who has joined the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) is due to meet PCB officials on Thursday when they will try to persuade him to drop his contract and make himself available for the national team.

Former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq has said he is keen to continue playing tests despite joining the ICL but said the selectors had not contacted him.

Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar faces a disciplinary hearing from Thursday following his brawl with team mate Mohammad Asif in South Africa for which he was sent home by the team management before the Twenty20 World Cup.

South Africa squad: Graeme Smith (captain), Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, Jean-Paul Duminy, Herschelle Gibbs, Paul Harris, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Shaun Pollock, Ashwell Prince, Dale Steyn.

REUTERS SSC HT1850

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