Inexperienced, watered-down, second-string, novices, were only some words used to write off visitors, South Africa, against Pakistan in the three-match T20I series. This shore of the world has not been kind towards them. In here for a total of 5 matches, of which they have played three already – two Tests followed by the first T20I, they are yet to taste even a smidgeon of success.
“Pleasing to see we are playing good cricket, but it’s frustrating and disappointing by our standards. We know exactly what we want and what we need to do to be a successful team”, stated a modest Heinrich Klassen after Pakistan managed to edge them out by three runs in a thrilling, last-ball-finish first T20I.
At the core of South Africa’s problem lies the difference between knowing what is needed to become a “successful team” and putting what they know into execution to truly become one. And the first game – where they were pleasingly ahead of their rivals for a considerable period – is an appropriate exemplification.
South Africa was well on course of the chase until openers Janneman Malan and Reeza Hendricks were in the middle. Their fielding standards were a notch or two higher than what the Test team did. The bowlers bowled well and had answers for almost everything, keeping aside an on-song Mohammad Rizwan.
Even at halfway mark, when they needed runs at 10.40 an over with eight wickets in hands, they seemed firm favorites. Although, it came down to throwing everything away and letting the opponents run away in the end. None of it is to denigrate Pakistan, who had a gallant combatant in Usman Qadir, who spun a web and squeezed out life from a side that was seemingly cruising towards victory.
While expressing his willingness to bring clarity to the squad and making an influence on the youngsters around him, David Miller, the most experienced player in the visitors’ squad, accepted that their team will be under a fair bit of pressure. After all, Pakistan – who have a streak of seven T20I wins at home – in their backyard is always a tough nut to crack.
But for South Africa, perspective is crucial. They can, undoubtedly, take pride in not even remotely allowing Pakistan to look the overwhelming favorites they were billed as. And that they managed this in the absence of most of their first-choice players, Pakistan will know that no one will serve them victories on a platter.
Pitch and conditions
The role of dew was evident in the first game, where the pacers had a hard time gripping the ball and gaining control. Expect the wet ball to skid on the surface and make batting easier under lights once again. Pakistan’s victory was the seventh instance (in twelve fixtures) when the team defending won at the Gaddafi Stadium. If only South Africa could have capitalized, the record would have stood an even 6-6. That aside, neither team would mind chasing after Thursday’s encounter.
Playing combinations for PAK vs SA
Babar Azam was dismissed run-out for a duck in an all-anticipated comeback for him. And had it not been for the sensational fight from Mohamad Rizwan, the score-line could have well been in their opponent’s favor. That Pakistan managed to open the account was thanks to not only Rizwan but equally importantly Usman Qadir, whose economical and run-drying spell applied brakes at the right time. With winning momentum on their side, Pakistan would want responsible contributions from a middle-order that largely failed to click on Thursday.
Predicted XI: Babar Azam (C), Haider Ali, Mohammad Rizwan (WK), Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Usman Qadir.
Both Malan and Hendricks were quick to pounce on to the chance given to them, and South Africa’s hopes of making a comeback will necessarily be reliant on them apart from skipper Heinrich Klaasen and seniors David Miller and Andile Phehlukwayo. Dwaine Pretorius and Bjorn Fortuin’s late flourish kept South Africa within a touching distance, however, after failing to take the team across the line, they will be keen to shrug off the defeat and return fresh on a new day.
Predicted XI: Reeza Hendricks, Janneman Malan, Jacques Snyman, Heinrich Klaasen (C&WK), David Miller, Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Bjorn Fortuin, Junior Dala, Lutho Sipamla
PAK vs SA Head to Head
Played – 15 | Pakistan – 7 | South Africa – 8
PAK vs SA Broadcast Details
Match Timings- 6:30 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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