Pakistan, South Africa look to claim all-important lead in 4th ODI
CENTURION – There has been little to pick between the two sides in the first couple of ODIs, and the teams will want to stamp their authority in the third one-day international at Supersport Park, Centurion on Friday.
Both teams put in a solid batting performance in the first ODI in Port Elizabeth. Both then suffered top-order failures in the second game in Durban. Pakistan won the first game, and South Africa settled scores in the second.
It’s fair to say that the contest so far has been evenly contested, with the chasing side winning by five wickets on both occasions. Come the third of five ODIs, in Centurion, both teams will desperately want to pull ahead.
The hosts need to sort out a few things with the batting. In Port Elizabeth, Hashim Amla scored a fine unbeaten century and Rassie van der Dussen made 93, but despite the solid platform laid, they were able to post only 266/2 – a total that proved very inadequate. Their inability to accelerate cost them that game.
Then in the second game, chasing a modest 204, they slipped to 80/5, and it took a record sixth-wicket stand between the impressive van der Dussen and Andile Phehlukwayo to get them over the line, rather comfortably in the end.
South Africa are searching for that fine balance between caution and calculated aggression, and that’ll be key at the Centurion.
Pakistan’s bowling has been pretty disciplined in both games and they didn’t waver in the first game even as Amla and van der Dussen batted solidly. Shaheen Afridi gave further evidence of his quality in the second game, picking three wickets. And Shadab Khan’s wrist-spin has troubled South Africa considerably.
That said, Imran Tahir and Tabraiz Shamsi, South Africa’s primary spinners, have stood out with excellent performances as well. South Africa’s quicks were unable to do much damage in the opening game but came roaring back in Durban, with Rabada taking 2/35 and Phehlukwayo starring with 4/22.
Dale Steyn will be back in the squad for remaining three ODIs, and will look to make some inroads, as will the uncapped Beuran Hendricks.
Pakistan’s batsmen need to find ways to better counter them. Fakhar Zaman has got starts in two games, but has been unable to carry on for big scores. Imam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Hafeez starred in the first ODI, but failed in the second.
In Durban, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Hasan Ali had to stitch together a 90-run stand for the ninth wicket to take Pakistan past 200. It’s the year of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup and Pakistan will want to be more consistent with the bat.
Shadab Khan (Pakistan): The leg-spinning all-rounder has made an impact with the ball in both games so far, but Pakistan will want him to start contributing more consistently with the bat too. His batting hasn’t looked too poor, to be fair, and he could add tremendous stability to Pakistan’s depth if he can apply himself a little more.
Andile Phehlukwayo (South Africa): The 22-year-old has always been a skillful ODI bowler, but increasingly, he’s starting to show the depth he brings to the batting. His averages 33.18 now, figures indicative of a more-than-handy lower-down batter. With the ball, his variations of pace combined with relentless accuracy have proven key to restricting oppositions.
The strip in Centurion can be quite batsmen-friendly, but there’s also something in it for the quicks. The weather is expected to be warm and ideal for cricket.
Pakistan: Sarfaraz Ahmed(c), Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali, Hussain Talat, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shan Masood, Shoaib Malik, Usman Khan.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis(c), Hashim Amla, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Quinton de Kock, David Miller, Beuran Hendricks, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Dale Steyn. –ICC