With star players having retired and others leaving to play IPL, the hosts may struggle against Pakistan in the limited-overs series
Pakistan’s cricket team is in South Africa to play ODI and T20 series. They will be confident against Proteas as just two months back they won the Test series against South Africa on home soil after around 18 years. Before that the last time Pakistan won a Test series against South Africa was in 2003.
The positive aspect of the series was improvement in Pakistan team’s fielding, especially catching. Some exceptional catches were taken in the slips and other positions that boosted the bowlers’ confidence and they performed at their best.
Playing on home conditions always plays a vital role in giving youngsters enough confidence to show their skills, but playing in South African conditions will be a challenge for the Pakistan team, especially for the batsmen.
Currently, South Africa are fifth and Pakistan sixth in the ICC ODI team ranking.
Before the ongoing ODI series, the two teams had met 79 times, South Africa having won 50 and Pakistan only 28.
The first ODI between South Africa and Pakistan was played in the 1992 World Cup which was won by the Proteas in a nail-biting finish.
After the World Cup defeat, Pakistan beat South Africa in six consecutive ODIs. But from 1995, the South African team dominated and didn’t lose a single match against Pakistan till March 2000. Since then it has been a seesaw between the two teams.
In the T20 format, South Africa have won eight matches in 14 clashes. Pakistan have won five matches.
Selectors have taken a bold step by picking young players like Abdullah Shafique, Haider Ali, Danish Aziz, Saud Shakil, Muhammad Wasim Jr, Arshad Iqbal and Usman Qadil for the tough series.
It will be a good chance for young Pakistani players to perform against a quality opposition and cement their places in the national team.
In 2013-14 under Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan became the first subcontinent side to win a bilateral ODI series in the country. Since 2010, Pakistan have a 6-7 win-loss ODI record in South Africa and have won three of six T20Is.
In 2013-14, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan and Bilawal Bhatti with other bowlers made it possible for the Green-shirts.
Now Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali, Muhammad Hasnain and Haris Rauf with the support of Shadab Khan, Usman Qadir and Muhamamd Nawaz can restrict South African batting. But the Green-shirts performance will depend on their batting. If the top order provides a solid foundation, the middle order has the capability to set a big total on the board or chase a big target.
Head coach Misbah is confident that Pakistan can win both the ODI and T20I series that will be helpful in preparation for the T20 World Cup.
Misbah thinks that with white-ball cricket, the pitches in South Africa are very good.
Today’s South African team is not as strong as it was in the past.
Since the retirement of Hashim Amla, Morne Morkel, AB de Villers, JP Duminy, the South African team has been struggling.
For the ongoing series, Temba Bavuma has been appointed as South Africa’s skipper. He replaces Quinton de Kock and will lead South Africa in the T20 World Cup in 2021 and 2022 as well as in the World Cup in 2023.
Bavuma, 30, is the first black player to captain the South African team. In the absence of Faf du Plessis and Dale Steyn, it will be tough for the new captain.
In his first assignment, Bavuma’s task will become more difficult when key players Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje head to the IPL after the second ODI.
Former South African captain AB de Villiers is the most successful ODI batsmen in bilateral cricket with 1423 runs in 32 matches, averaging 59.29, including three hundreds and 10 fifties. Former Pakistan skipper Mohammad Yousuf scored 1116 runs against South Africa in 34 appearances with two centuries and nine half-centuries at an average of 34.87.
Pakistan’s Waqar Younis took 58 wickets against South Africa in 32 ODIs, averaging 24.89. Makhaya Nitini and Shaun Pollock got 49 wickets each in 25 and 36 matches, respectively.