Hosts look to avenge recent series defeats against Pakistan
South Africa’s ODI team will be looking to triumph over Pakistan, in order to recover ground that both their Test and T20I team lost on their recent visit to Pakistan in January. The Proteas competed well right throughout that tour, but ultimately lacked a killer instinct. They lost the Test series 2-0 with their regular players and the T20I series 2-1, with a fringe squad.
Pakistan, on the other hand, are looking to build on their strong run of recent results and it looks as if their team is coming together well. The postponement of the Pakistan Super League has limited their game-time. Therefore, similar to South Africa’s ODI team, the Pakistani players could be rusty initially.
Regularity at first
South Africa’s ODI team is likely to be shredded after the first two games and this will also go on to affect the T20I series. The Indian Premier League begins on the 9th of April and this has taken its toll on the squad. A number of South Africa’s high-profile players are contracted with various franchises in the IPL and are likely to fly in early to train and isolate, prior to the start of the tournament.
These players include David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Faf Du Plessis, Kagiso Rabada, Quinton De Kock and Lungi Ngidi. As a result, South Africa will be under-strength in the third ODI and for the entire T20I series.
Hence, it is critical for the hosts to start well, while the players are available. That is not to say the fringe players couldn’t step up, but it will be tough against a strong Pakistani team.
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The former batsman and current head coach of Pakistan has commented that the venues that the two teams are playing at, suit the visitors. The three ODI’s and the four T20Is will be played at the Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg and at Supersport Park Centurion. These are the only two stadiums that will be used due to Covid-19 protocols.
Misbah likened the pitches to his playing career and said that he had fond memories. He went on to state that “The pitches have good pace and bounce and are true for stroke-play. You get full value for your shots.”
However, South Africa has a strong home record, especially at those two aforementioned venues and so it will not be easy for Pakistan to win either series. South Africa won the ODI series 3-2 in 2018/19 against Pakistan and the T20I series 2-1.
The Rizwan factor
Mohammad Rizwan had a fabulous series in January, when South Africa travelled to Pakistan. He was man of the series in both the Test and the T20I series. In the T20Is, he ended as the highest run-scorer on either side with 197 runs in just 3 innings, including a superb century in the first game. He also scored 166 runs in just two Tests, including another fine century in the second game at Rawalpindi.
Sources say that the team management has decided to play Sarfaraz Ahmed during the series as a wicket-keeper batsman and Mohammad Rizawan as a pure batsman. This might seem odd but it is certainly viable.
Rizwan is coming into this series with great international form and South Africa will need to keep him quiet in order to win both series.
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South Africa’s ODI team: Quinton De Kock (WK), Janneman Malan/ Aiden Markram, Temba Bavuma (C), Rassie Van Der Dussen, David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi.
Pakistan’s ODI team: Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam (C), Mohammad Rizwan (WK), Haider Ali, Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Hasnain, Haris Rauf.
Given the home conditions and the fact that South Africa do have their full-strength side for the first two games, expect them to edge the series. South Africa to win the ODI series 2-1 against Pakistan. Temba Bavuma says he is “Inspired by Eoin Morgan” and wants South Africa to play a similar brand of cricket.
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