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Pakistan, South Africa to battle in ODI series decider today

Pakistan, South Africa to battle in ODI series decider today
April 6, 2021

CENTURION, South Africa – Three days after Fakhar Zaman's incredible 193, South Africa and Pakistan do battle in the ODI series decider at Supersport Park, Centurion today.

South Africa withstood a record-breaking innings from Zaman in the second ODI to keep their hopes of a series victory alive. After losing the series opener by three wickets, the hosts bounced back to win game two by 17 runs despite the best efforts of Zaman.

The opener was run out for 193 in Johannesburg, registering the second-highest score in a losing cause in ODI history and the highest ever score in a chase, eclipsing Shane Watson's unbeaten 185 against Bangladesh in 2011. Zimbabwe's Charles Coventry still boasts the highest score in a loss for his unbeaten 194 against Bangladesh in 2009.

Zaman hit an incredible 18 fours and 10 sixes in his innings before falling seven runs short of becoming the second player to have scored multiple ODI double-centuries. Keeping the big-hitting left-hander quiet will be key to South Africa's hopes of claiming the series.

Conversely, Pakistan will be hoping for a more rounded effort with the bat after Zaman was left to carry the chase in the second match where captain Babar Azam (31) was the only other batter to score more than 20 runs.

Both sides will be missing key personnel for the decider. All-rounder Shadab Khan has been ruled out of the remainder of the tour with a toe injury while South Africa will be without a host of stars who have departed for the Indian Premier League.

With the bat they'll be without star opener Quinton de Kock and the hard-hitting David Miller. With the ball all three of Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje have departed.

Captain Temba Bavuma implored his team to look to it as an opportunity rather than a setback.

"We'll go into the (final) game wanting to win the game and fortunate or unfortunate that we don't have our main players available, the IPL boys," Bavuma said. "At the same time there is an opportunity for the guys on the fringes to really make a play for the team."

For both teams, the match presents the opportunity to move up the Cricket World Cup Super League standings. South Africa currently sits 11th in the CWCSL with nine points. A victory would seem them leapfrog Ireland and Zimbabwe to ninth on the standings.

Pakistan sit fourth right now with 30 points and can move as high as first if they win this match convincingly.

Remember last time

The Johannesburg clash was a high-scoring encounter that saw four South Africans pass 50 without bringing up a ton and one Pakistani pass 150 but cruelly fall short of a double-century.

Sent out to bat, the Proteas belted a total of 341/6 from their 50 overs, with de Kock (80 off 86) and Bavuma (92 off 102) providing the bedrock of the innings before some free-spirited hitting from Rassie van der Dussen (60 off 37) and Miller (50* off 27) took them within touching distance of 350.

It took something special from Zaman to keep Pakistan even remotely in the chase.

The tourists lost wickets regularly throughout their innings, with Azam the only other batter to pass 20 as Rabada (1/43 off 10) and Nortje (3/63 off 10) turned the screws.

What they said

Pakistan captain Babar Azam: "Fakhar's innings was one of the best I've seen. Fantastic, unfortunate he couldn't finish it. Till Fakhar was playing, I had hope. I think if he had a few other batsmen stood by with him, we would've won. Fakhar was doing all alone. The mistakes we have done, we will try to fix them next game."

South Africa captain Temba Bavuma: "The two games have gone down to the wire, it's been an incredible experience." –ICC