The sport in the time of pandemic has seen strange scenarios boiling up. And in one such, a second-string South Africa T20I lineup will be against Pakistan for three T20Is, the first of which goes underway in Lahore on 11th February 2021. Whether South Africa be able to compete sans the likes of Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen, Kagiso Rabada, and Lungi Ngidi? All of those who have returned home as part of the plan for the Test series against Australia, which has now been – much to South Africa’s frustration – indefinitely postponed.
Quite certainly, the stocks of the visitors, who failed to evade a clean-sweep defeat in the two-Test series despite the presence of those missing the T20I leg of the series, do not go up in their absence. But the show will go on nevertheless, with a high-spirited, and back-from-a-COVID-bout Heinrich Klassen taking a shot at international captaincy.
Even a bunch of first-choice players missing and a squad where no player, bar David Miller, has more than 27 caps worth of T20I experience, has not led Klassen to pull the flag down and he exuded confidence: “We are by no means a second-string squad and we are looking to win”.
With three maiden call-ups, those of top-order batsman Jacques Snyman, wicketkeeper-batsman Ryan Rickelton, and pacer Okuhle Cele, in the 18-man T20I squad, South Africa is not entirely a bunch of newbies as David Miller, Reeza Hendricks, Andile Phehlukwayo, and Jon-Jon Smuts will be available to provide some experience.
The recent record of South Africa in the shortest format inspires little confidence – they won only two out of the 9 T20Is in 2020. On the other hand is Pakistan, a team that defeated almost every opposition it faced in the format not too long ago and boarded upon a record-breaking streak of 11 T20I series wins over a three-year period. Although, they are no longer the bullies, having undergone defeats against South Africa, England, Sri Lanka, and Australia – a slide that they arrested through home triumphs against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe last year.
With all-rounder Danish Aziz, left-arm spinner Zafar Gohar, leg-spinner Zahid Mehmood, and bowling all-rounder Amad Butt receiving their maiden international call-ups, there is plenty to look for in Pakistan’s squad too. Matters most recent will be on Pakistan’s mind against a relatively inexperienced side, and the hosts must believe they have the right personnel to outperform their adversaries. More so, after their spotless performance in a much harder format recently.
Pitch and conditions
Of the 108 wickets that have fallen at the venue in 11 T20Is, as many as 71 belong to the pacers, highlighting the ample assistance that they enjoy. Pakistan has happy memories coming to the Gaddafi Stadium as they won the three-match series against Bangladesh in 2020, with the last match being abandoned. Given the 6-5 win ratio of teams batting first, the choice at toss will be interesting.
Playing combinations for PAK vs SA
Pakistan must be pleased with Babar Azam back in the side – he missed the three T20Is against New Zealand due to a broken thumb. However, they will be missing the services of their Mohammad Hafeez, who missed to meet the Pakistan Cricket Board’s deadline for players to enter a bio-secure bubble for the series due to his participation in the Abu Dhabi T10 League.
They are expected to hand debut to Danish Aziz, who will feature alongside Mohammad Rizwan and Asif Ali in the middle-order, whereas Usman Qadir, the leading performer in Pakistan’s victory over Zimbabwe in 2020 will pick himself alongside pacers Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, and Shaheen Afridi.
Predicted XI: Babar Azam (C), Haider Ali, Mohammad Rizwan (WK), Asif Ali, Danish Aziz, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi, Usman Qadir
George Linde, Dwaine Pretorius, Tabraiz Shamsi, and Lutho Sipamla are the only members of the Test squad that are available for the T20Is. The series is an opportunity for opening batsmen Reeza Hendricks and Janneman Malan apart from pacer Junior Dala to grab attention for their regular inclusion in limited-overs teams. There will be added burden on David Miller and all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo to carry the young side alongside Klaasen.
Predicted XI: Reeza Hendricks, Janneman Malan, Jon Jon Smuts, Heinrich Klaasen (C&WK), David Miller, Pite van Biljon/Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Bjorn Fortuin, Junior Dala, Lutho Sipamla
PAK vs SA Head to Head
Played – 14 | Pakistan – 6 | South Africa – 8
PAK vs SA Broadcast Details
Match Timings- 4:00 PM (IST)
TV –Sony Sports Network, Sony LIV
Live Streaming– Fancode
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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