South Africa hold edge despite Razzaq miracle
Match FactsNovember 2, Dubai
Start time 15:00 (11:00 GMT)
The Big Picture
Pakistan's victories are rarely unspectacular. They rarely win without a blitz from the blue or a jaw-dropping demonstration of fast bowling. They almost always leave it late, and to a few men, sending their fans from despair to delight. But because Pakistan rely so much on moments of individual genius to overcome collective, sustained efficiency, they don't win as much as less exciting sides do.
Like well-oiled South Africa, who won ten consecutive one-day internationals before being blind-sided by Abdul Razzaq. Pakistan are certainly the more memorable side, in victory or defeat, but South Africa unquestionably the more successful. Even if South Africa go on to take the series 4-1, the stand-out match and performance could still be Razzaq's heist. It's a back-handed compliment of sorts but Pakistan would probably be willing to swap some of their breathtaking tendencies for mundane, run-of-the-mill victories. But that isn't this Pakistan's way.
So as the series moves to Dubai, South Africa will enter Tuesday's game as favourites once again, simply because it's likelier that Hashim Amla will provide a solid start, which his team-mates in the middle order will convert into a substantial performance. And it's likelier that Pakistan's batsmen will combust, whether from their indiscretions or South Africa's superiority. Should that come to pass, ODI No. 3064 is likely to fade from memory quickly. But if it doesn't, and Razzaq or another temperamental Pakistan player produces a mercurial performance, the battle between these two very different teams will be worth the watch.
Form guide(most recent first)
South Africa: LWWWW
Watch out for...
Misbah-ul-Haq made only 31 runs in the first two ODIs after replacing Umar Akmal, who perhaps paid the price for one flamboyant shot too many. Misbah is likely to keep his place in the remaining games, considering he will be Test captain after the one-dayers are over, but would like to secure it with worthy performances. His steady approach could form the pillar around which the shot-makers can rally, but he is yet to find form.
Few people will remember Colin Ingram's century, a innings that was the bulwark of South Africa's 286 in the second ODI, because Razzaq blitzed it into an obscure page in the record books. Ingram does, however, average 85 with a strike-rate of 94 after five ODIs, and is a prospect for the future.
Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis missed the second ODI and it's not yet certain that they will return for the third. Smith got hit on his hand but x-rays revealed no fracture, while Kallis was racked with cramps and had to retire in the first game. He needed an intravenous drip after suffering from dehydration, which was triggered by a viral infection.
South Africa (possible): 1 Robin Peterson, 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Colin Ingram, 4 AB de Villiers (wk), 5 JP Duminy, 6 David Miller, 7 Albie Morkel 8 Johan Botha (capt), 9 Morne Morkel, 10 Lonwabo Tsotsobe, 11 Charl Langeveldt
Never change a winning combination, if it ain't broke don't fix it … the cliches exhorting the virtues of persisting with a winning side are numerous. But Pakistan, with their reliance on individuals, aren't a winning combination and so there's a case for Umar Akmal to be given a look-in once again.
Pakistan (possible): 1 Asad Shafiq, 2 Mohammad Hafeez, 3 Younis Khan, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq / Umar Akmal, 5 Fawad Alam, 6 Shahid Afridi (capt), 7 Abdul Razzaq, 8 Zulqarnain Haider (wk), 9 Umar Gul, 10 Shoaib Akhtar, 11 Saeed Ajmal
Stats and trivia
- Only two ODIs have been played at the Dubai International Stadium - between Pakistan and Australia - and both were low-scoring contests. Australia's 208 for 4 is the venue's highest total
- Beware Shahid Afridi the legspinner at this venue. In those two games against Australia, Afridi claimed 6 for 38 and 2 for 38 in ten-over spells.
"We are feeling better now as a team. We have areas to improve on, but we will try our best in the coming games."
Shahid Afridi has said variations of this before, but consistency remains a shifting target
"I can't really say much, but you play an innings like that, then you deserve to win the game. It's never nice to lose, but rather here than in a World Cup."
South Africa's stand-in captain, Johan Botha, after the second ODI.
George Binoy is an assistant editor at Cricinfo