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The Preview by Firdose Moonda at Edgbaston
June 9, 2013
Monday, June 10, 2013, Edgbaston
Start time 1.00pm (12 GMT)
The Champions Trophy will only be five days old on Monday but already it's crunch time. Defeat at Edgbaston will leave either South Africa or Pakistan on the brink of exit. Neither team is ready for that reality yet, so expect a tooth-and-nail affair between two desperate units.
The numbers are in South Africa's favour. They beat Pakistan 3-2 in a series in March and, even though they lost the warm-up match last Monday, they are in better shape after their opening match against India. South Africa ensured their net run-rate remained high when they ran India close and they showed they could bat deep.
Pakistan did the opposite. They were woeful against a West Indies attack that challenged with pace and spin, and only Nasir Jamshed and Misbah-ul-Haq showed any fight. However, even though they only scored 170, their bowlers kept them in the game until the last 10 overs, showing they could defend as long as there was a reasonable total.
The battle lines have been drawn between South Africa's batting and Pakistan's bowling and has been evened out by South Africa's pace pack being depleted. Although neutrals would want to see Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel in action, without them the contest should level. That promises a match of spit and sizzle, rather than just steam.
Form guide(Most recent first)
South Africa: LWWLW
In the Spotlight
Colin Ingram has yet to look like he belongs in big-match situations and will have to make the most of what could be his last opportunity to nail down a spot. Ingram will face a stern challenge against an attack which has been spoken about as the most difficult to face in this tournament, because of their variation.
He is confident against spin but will have to survive the early onslaught first and Junaid Khan will cause the most problems. The left-armer troubled South Africa in their warm-up match at the Oval last week and, with a middle order that is packed with left-handers, he can be expected to make an impact again.
Dale Steyn's fitness is South Africa's most pressing concern ahead of this match and it looks unlikely he will play, although they are holding out faint hope. They also have other selection issues to consider.
Chris Morris is certain to make his ODI debut in place of Morne Morkel, and South Africa may toy with the idea of including a second spinner in Aaron Phangiso. Colin Ingram should get another chance at the top of the order and South Africa may look to lengthen their batting line-up by pushing Robin Peterson up in a pinch-hitter role.
South Africa: (probable) 1 Colin Ingram, 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Faf du Plessis, 4 AB de Villiers (capt & wk), 5 JP Duminy, 6 David Miller, 7 Ryan McLaren 8 Robin Peterson 9 Chris Morris, 10 Rory Kleinveldt/Aaron Phangiso, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe/Dale Steyn
Pakistan's bowlers almost defended 170 on Friday so they will not want to make any changes to that department. Even though the top-order batting let them down at the Oval, they don't have too many options to bolster that. Umar Amin is the only spare batsmen but it's unlikely he will replace anyone in the current line-up.
Pakistan: (probable) 1 Imran Farhat, 2 Nasir Jamshed, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Asad Shafiq, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Shoaib Malik, 7 Kamran Akmal, 8 Wahab Riaz, 9 Saeed Ajmal 10 Junaid Khan, 11 Mohammed Irfan
Pitch and conditions
Ian Bell, who top-scored in the match between England and Australia that was played at this ground on Saturday, said the pitch became harder to bat on as the match progressed. Scoring slowed towards the end of the England innings and the Australian batsmen found it difficult to get going.
He said it was a very different surface compared to the usual one-day wicket at the ground because it was so much drier. That will become more noticeable as the tournament goes on and spinners can look forward to assistance in the later stages. Overhead conditions will also be good for the quicks with a mostly cloudy, mild day with a high of 15 degrees forecast and no rain expected.
Stats and Trivia
"We hope he gets to that big 100 in terms of birthdays and can still make a difference in our country in the next few years."
Apart from everything else, the health of Nelson Mandela is on AB de Villiers' mind as well. The former president was admitted to hospital on Sunday morning.
"They believe that they can do it. I believe they can do it. It's just a matter of applying yourself. They should not be worried" Misbah-ul-Haq has some motivating words for his team
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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But you can't expect a turnaround unless pitches, umpiring and practice facilities are simultaneously improved