Kallis relishing Test return
South Africa all-rounder Jacques Kallis cannot wait to get back into Test action as the Proteas gear up for the start of the first Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
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The 37-year-old has not featured in a Test since February - also against Pakistan - and has not been involved in international limited-overs cricket since early 2012 after making himself unavailable for the Champions Trophy in England and the one-day series in Sri Lanka.
He looked as though he had never been away, however, as he scored an impressive 70 in the three-day warm-up match against Pakistan A at Sharjah, and will head into his 163rd Test refreshed and raring to go.
"It's probably what I needed," he said of his break.
"After the Indian Premier League (in May) I felt I needed some time to get away from the game.
"It was after some 17 or 18 years that I felt I needed a good three months away and it was a pleasurable period where I could refresh and get little niggles sorted out.
"I got to do what most people do on weekends - spend time with friends, play some golf, catch up doing some stuff at home.
"But I did not watch any cricket."
And Kallis, who has racked up six Test centuries against Pakistan, clearly feels his game has benefited from the rest.
"I spent a lot of time doing fitness work and two weeks hitting the ball and also bowling," he said, quoted on www.iol.co.za.
"I'm probably hitting the ball better than I ever did. I think I'm back to playing the best cricket of my life.
"From that point it's been two weeks of good work and I feel I'm in a good space. It gives me a lot of confidence going into the Test match.
"I got into the groove quite nicely and quickly.
"I'm feeling good. There's no stiffness and I'm really looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead."
Meanwhile, Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal will be hoping history repeats itself when he pits himself against the world's top-ranked Test team having wreaked havoc against England when they held that title last year.
"I will try my best and want to be the number one Test bowler," Ajmal was quoted as saying on www.thenews.com.pk.
Ajmal's 24-wicket haul against England took him briefly to the summit of the bowling rankings, but he has since slipped to fourth.
"Every day is a new day for me and every match is a new match," said Ajmal, who turns 36 on Monday.
"I try my best in every match and want to perform in the same manner as I did in the last one without taking on extra pressure."
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq believes Ajmal will have to raise his game to gain the same sort of results against South Africa as he managed against England.
"I think it will be a big challenge for Ajmal," Misbah said at the unveiling of the series trophy on Saturday.
"He was new to England and that's why they struggled against him. South Africans have played him more, so it's a big challenge for Ajmal and he will have to lift his bowling because he is up against a team who plays him well."
The second and final Test takes place in Dubai from October 23, after which the teams will contest five one-day and two Twenty20 internationals.