Pakistan are still in search for their first win on tour, as they prepare for the ODI series against South Africa, beginning today. The tourists were mauled in the recent three match Test series, with none of the matches going beyond lunch on the fourth day, but have reason to be optimistic in the 50-overs game where fast short-pitched bowling will likely not be a decisive factor. After routing the Pakistani Tigers in the Tests, the Proteas will look to extend their dominance in the 50-over format, when they take on Pakistan in the first of five ODIs at the St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, January 19th.
Losing the first two Tests of a new year would certainly not have been on Pakistan’s wishlist for 2019, but as they switch kits from white to green less than six months away from a 50-over World Cup, there’s a lot to play for. The gulf in quality that was evidently visible during the five-day affairs despite Pakistan’s fight every now and then will not be the same in the ODI format. Mickey Arthur described Pakistan’s Asia Cup defeat to Bangladesh as the worst result under his regime but his side has done well to wiggle out of the shambles they were in during that tournament.
For both teams, the series is an important step towards the Cricket World Cup in England and Wales later this year.
While most of South Africa’s playing XI is more or less sorted ahead of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019, the all-rounder’s spot remains a concern. With JP Duminy out of the series with injury, captain Faf du Plessis hopes that one of Andile Phehlukwayo, Wiaan Mulder, Chris Morris and Dwaine Pretorius will make his claim for a permanent berth in the side.
1st ODI: 04.30pm January 19th, Saturday @ St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth
2nd ODI: 04.30pm January 22nd, Tuesday @ Kingsmead, Durban
3rd ODI: 04.30pm January 25th, Friday @ SuperSport Park, Centurion
4th ODI: 01.30pm January 27th, Sunday @ The Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
5th ODI: 04.30pm January 30th, Wednesday @ Newlands, Cape Town
South Africa: 47
No result: 1
First Match: Benson & Hedges World Cup – 22nd match, South Africa won by 20 runs (revised target) at Brisbane Cricket Ground, Woolloongabba, Brisbane (neutral venue), on March 08th, 1992
Last Match: 7th Match, Group B in 2017 ICC Champions Trophy – Pakistan won by 19 runs (D/L method) at Edgbaston, Birmingham on June 7th, 2017
The Proteas have been a team to reckon with, especially on their home soil and after a world-class outing in Test series, they will now aim to continue that dominance in the shorter format as well. They are expected to use this series as a preparation for the 2019 World Cup, so one may see a few of the fringe players playing their part in the middle.
Having based their World Cup plans on picking four specialist bowlers, SA are yet to settle on a batting all-rounder to fill the crucial number seven position. They announced a squad for the first two matches only. Since the squad was announced, it was decided to rest wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock and fast bowler Dale Steyn.
The changes provide opening batsman Aiden Markram with another opportunity to shine in a format in which he has yet to assert himself, while fast bowler Duanne Olivier was rewarded for his man of the series performances in the Tests with a first one-day call-up. The first ODI is at Port Elizabeth which usually has one of the slowest pitches in South Africa. This should suit the tourists. In their most recent appearance at the ground, in November 2013, they clinched their only one-day series win in South Africa.
Pakistan have shown their ability in one-day cricket, notably when they won the Champions Trophy in England in 2017. Since the start of that tournament, during which they beat South Africa in a rain-shortened match, they have compiled a 17-10 winning record. After a sub-par performance in the Test series, the Asians will aim for a revival in the ODI series and should take some confidence from their previous record at this ground.
Pakistan’s batting will be strengthened by the inclusion of Mohammad Hafeez, who retired from Test cricket at the end of last year, and Shoaib Malik, while they have a capable attack in which spinners Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim could play key roles. Fakhar Zaman, the aggressive left-handed opening batsman, was exposed against the short ball in the Tests, being dropped after scoring only 32 runs in four innings, but has hit 1275 runs at an average of 57.95 in one-day internationals, scored at close to a run a ball.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (capt), Hashim Amla, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Heinrich Klaasen (wkt), Aiden Markram, David Miller, Duanne Olivier, Dane Paterson, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen.
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (capt, wkt), Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali, Hussain Talat, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan (wkt), Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shan Masood, Shoaib Malik, Usman Khan
Ready for action Folks?
Who is your Super 8?
Leagues up in the Lobby, Go get ’em champs!