Pakistan beware: Kallis back & playing 'best cricket of my life'

South Africa’s star all-rounder Jacques Kallis has fired out a warning to Pakistan by claiming he is playing the best cricket of his life ahead of the first Test here in the UAE.

The series gets underway on Monday in Abu Dhabi as the world’s No1 ranked Test side face a Pakistan side who are yet to taste a series defeat in their adopted home of the UAE.

However, Pakistan have struggled for form in 2013, with certain former players – including Shoaib Akhtar – describing the current setup as “our darkest era.”

And Pakistan will need to be at their very best when they take on a dangerous South Africa team that will be calling on one of their greatest ever players after an extended break.

Kallis, who returned to domestic matches after his break, played the last of his 162 Tests against Pakistan in February this year and has not featured in a limited over international since early 2012.

"After 17-18 years I needed a good three months away so it's been a pleasurable period where I could refresh my mind and get a little niggle sorted out," Kallis said on Sunday.

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The 37-year-old, who hit a confident 70 in the drawn side game ahead of the two-Test series, said he was feeling good.

"I am hitting the ball as well as I have ever hit and probably playing the best cricket of my life. From that point of view, it's been two weeks of good work," said Kallis, who hit successive hundreds against Pakistan in the drawn two-match series here three years ago.

Kallis said he was confident the South African batsmen would handle Pakistan's spinners, led by the prolific bowler Saeed Ajmal, well.

"As a team we probably play spin as well as anybody. Our record shows that. Our players have got some good game plans against it and we've scored some big runs and got some good results in the subcontinent," said Kallis, who has 1552 runs in 17 Tests, with six hundreds against Pakistan.

South Africa have not lost an away series since being beaten in Sri Lanka 2-0 in 2006 and they have only lost one series against Pakistan, 10 years ago.

Kallis played down a potential threat from off-spinner Ajmal, who took 24 wickets when Pakistan routed England 3-0 here last year.

"He is still a good bowler anywhere around the world but in his own conditions he'll be a bit more of a handful here. "We are not looking at one bowler specifically, we're taking it as a group. Any one of them can knock us over. that's the way we are focusing on it," said Kallis.

The batsman, who turns 38 on Wednesday, said he is not bothered about his age. "I still feel and act at times like a teenager. The guys keep me young here and when you play in a team which is playing good cricket, you forget about that kind of stuff.

"I'm still thoroughly enjoying my cricket and I've said, the day I wake up and don't want to do this anymore and don't feel like going out to improve as a player is the day I will call it quits.

"I am thoroughly enjoying cricket and at this stage the goal is to try and get through to that World Cup 2015. That will be the icing on the cake but you have to put in your performances, nobody is guaranteed a place in the side."

Kallis will again miss the five-match one-day series against Pakistan that follows the Tests. Both teams will also play two Twenty20 internationals.

 

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