The focus will, very briefly, shift to 50-over cricket again in a T20-riddled year as Pakistan and South Africa face off in three ODIs, all part of the ICC ODI Super League, before moving into a four-match T20I series. The two sides met not too long ago, when hosts, Pakistan, blanked the visitors 2-0 in the Test series before clinching the T20Is by 2-1 towards the start of this year.
In the little time that has elapsed in between, neither side has been involved in any international action, thanks to Australia pulling out of the Test tour owing to COVID-19 scares in South Africa, whereas the notorious virus making enough inroads to push Pakistan’s domestic T20 league PSL off the radar. What has changed in the same short span is the face of South Africa’s limited-overs cricket (for the third time in a year), with Temba Bavuma taking over the mantle of captaincy from Quinton de Kock, who replaced Faf du Plessis last February.
Amidst innumerable rumblings and chaos in their administrative setup, South African cricket has been on a constant decline. Currently placed fifth and sixth respectively, in ICC’s ODI and T20I rankings, South Africa has only a solitary series win in their last six limited-overs assignments. Nothing in the world has remained the same since they clean-swept Australia 3-0 in the home ODI series in February 2020, which came right after they drew a three-match series 1-1 against England at home in the same month.
In the upcoming series, while they do have all their mainstays available, the imminent IPL duties of many of those will ensure that they do not stay beyond the second ODI. That said, playing at home should be a reason enough for South Africa to back themselves as favourites even in the absence of the key players.
Their rivals, Pakistan, have a story of their own and they will be in action in 50-overs cricket only for the third series ever since they defeated Bangladesh at Lord’s by 94 runs in World Cup 2019. Ever since, Pakistan has been a part of more abandoned ODI games than a few nations have played. They defeated Sri Lanka 2-0 in the home ODIs in what was a historic return of cricket to their land. Following that was a cancelled series against the Netherlands and Ireland before they defeated Zimbabwe 2-1 at home.
Against South Africa in their backyard, Pakistan has only eight wins in 23 encounters since 2000. However, six of these eight wins have come in the last decade, which includes Pakistan’s 2-1 ODI victory in November 2013 under the leadership of Misbah-ul-Haq.
The then-leader of the national side, Misbah is now Pakistan’s head coach, and was recently on the line of fire, receiving severe backlash for the way the team was being handled by him. While successful series against their immediate rivals after a pile of losses has calmed down the critics, the current series will be his first test to retain that position as Pakistan kick start their ODI Super League journey going into the 2023 World Cup.
Pitch and conditions
Misbah-ul-Haq believes that the conditions in South Africa will assist Pakistan. The track at Centurion, much like most in the nation, is known for pace and bounce. The venue has fared well for the teams batting second, with a 30:22 record in their favor in 52 ODIs, and an average score of 246.
Playing combination for SA vs PAK
Current openers Quinton de Kock and Janneman Malan are likely to start the series, although Aiden Markram is expected to fill in once players leave to join their IPL teams. Skipper Temba Bavuma will be in the middle-order mix alongside the regulars Rassie van Der Dussen, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, and Andile Phehlukwayo. South Africa has a few new faces in Sisanda Magala, Lizaad Williams, Kyle Verreynne, and Daryn Duppavillon, who all will be in action later.
Predicted XI: Quinton de Kock (WK), Aiden Markram/Janneman Malan, Temba Bavuma (C), Rassie van Der Dussen, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi, Beuran Hendricks/Keshav Maharaj
Pakistan has a settled order at the top with Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, and Mohammad Rizwan, whereas both Haider Ali and Faheem Ashraf have cemented themselves as promising prospects for the team in the recent past. Shadab Khan, who has regained fitness, will be in action, and it will be reliant on the track whether another recent sensation, Usman Qadir gets a look-in in the eleven.
Predicted XI: Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam (C), Mohammad Rizwan (WK), Haider Ali, Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Hasnain/Haris Rauf
Head to Head SA vs PAK
Played – 79 | SA – 50 | PAK – 28
SA vs PAK Broadcast Details
Match Timings- 1:30 AM (IST)
TV – Star Sports
Live Streaming– Hotstar
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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