Saturday January 29, 2022

Pakistan in battle to save ODI series

By Agencies
January 27, 2019

JOHANNESBURG: A see-sawing series turns celebratory as Pakistan and South Africa return to Johannesburg for the annual PinkDay ODI event at the Wanderers. This will be the eighth edition of the popular fixture, which has helped to raise nearly R 5 million (USD 370,000 approx) for various breast-cancer-awareness organisations over the past six years.and a crowd of 24,000 is expected with tickets sold out.

There’s a special mood at these pink games, and the fixture has created some singular memories over the years, such as when bees (perhaps attracted to the hot pink) stopped play halfway through Sri Lanka’s innings in 2017, with all 13 players, as well as two umpires, lying facedown on the grass. Last year, the PinkDay ODI was the only one out of six in which South Africa managed to beat India, and three years ago Imran Tahir hit the winning runs in a one-wicket win over England. Most notably, of course, the PinkDay was also the occasion of AB de Villiers’ defining innings, when he smashed 16 sixes - and the record for the fastest ODI ton - during his 44-ball 149 against West Indies in 2015.

Their misadventures with insect infestations at the Wanderers during this tour notwithstanding, Pakistan have all the ingredients to play their part in what should be another engaging encounter to add to the storied narrative of South Africa’s PinkDay games. The visitors have held their own during the three ODIs so far, even as controversy threatened to derail their tour after the second match. Chasing has been key to success in the series so far, with Pakistan winning the first match by five wickets before South Africa reversed the result to draw level and then pulled ahead at a soggy Centurion. The quick turnaround leaves no time for what-ifs and navel-gazing from Pakistan, but the momentum is with South Africa and given the history of the occasion, the hosts will be very hard to beat.

In the spotlight: Sarfraz Ahmed has barely left the spotlight since the second ODI, though the extra attention had more to do with his mouth than his gloves or bat. While there has been no announcement from the ICC about an official sanction for Safraz’ comments to Andile Phehlukwayo, his words have cast a shadow over the tour and on the field Sarfraz has pushed himself down the order as low as no. 8 with middling results. His actions will continue to be scrutinised, as will his returns as captain.

The no. 7 position in South Africa’s XI is one of the few places in the side without a settled incumbent. Andile Phehlukwayo staked a bold claim for the position with his career-best performance in Durban, but then leaked 71 runs at Centurion. It’s a position Dwaine Pretorius might also look to fill, and behind him Chris Morris and Wiaan Mulder - both included in South Africa’s T20 squad - will also have designs on it. Another strong all-round showing from Phehlukwayo would go some way towards holding off the competition.

Team news: Left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks should get another chance on what has become his home ground with the Lions franchise, and if the track looks flat and hard South Africa may look to bolster their seam attack and lower order with allrounder Dwaine Pretorius, who also plays his domestic cricket here. If not, South Africa may look to swap Tabraiz Shamsi for Imran Tahir, who has a decent record at this ground with 7 wickets at 22.57, after Shamsi put in an inconsistent performance at Centurion.

Pakistan: 1 Imam-ul-Haq, 2 Fakhar Zaman/Shan Masood, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Mohammad Hafeez, 5 Shoaib Malik, 6 Sarfraz Ahmed (capt & wk), 7 Shadab Khan, 8 Imad Wasim/Faheem Ashraf, 9 Hasan Ali, 10 Mohammad Amir, 11 Shaheen Shah Afridi

Pitch and conditions

South Africa: 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Reeza Hendricks, 4 Faf du Plessis (capt), 5 Rassie van der Dussen, 6 David Miller, 7 Andile Phehlukwayo, 8 Kagiso Rabada, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Beuran Hendricks, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi/Imran Tahir.