Pakistan v South Africa, 1st ODI, Sharjah October 29, 2013

Pakistan seek first series win against SA

Match facts

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Start time 1500 local (1100 GMT)

Big Picture

Pakistan have never won a bilateral series against South Africa despite coming close a number of times. Four times out of six, the two teams have gone on to the last match with the fate of the series in the balance, only for South Africa to come out trumps every time. However, with their experienced limited-overs names back in the squad, Pakistan would feel they have a chance to topple a South African side not having its best year in ODIs.

South Africa have lost 10 out of their 18 matches this year, including a series against New Zealand at home and more recently, a series in Sri Lanka. It's the first time since 2004 that they have a win-loss ratio less than one. Pakistan, on the other hand, have beaten India, West Indies and Zimbabwe in bilateral series. Only four rating points separate the two teams and a series win will help Pakistan march ahead of South African and occupy the fifth place in ICC rankings.

There are obvious areas of concern for Pakistan. For a team that has played more than 20 matches this year, that only three of its batsmen have scored more than 300 runs reflects poorly on its batting. Misbah-ul-Haq has had a stellar year, but the young batsmen on whom Pakistan have invested haven't paid back yet. So it's another chance for players like Ahmed Shehzad, Nasir Jamshed and Asad Shafiq to establish themselves.

South Africa have also struggled with their batting this year despite the presence of some experienced names and have asked Gary Kirsten to mentor the batsmen during the ODI series. If both teams' batting follows the trend, it could mean the bowlers will have a larger role to play in the series, especially the spinners, of whom Pakistan are likely to feature three in every game - Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi.

Form guide

(last five completed games most recent first)
Pakistan WWLWW
South Africa LLWLL

In the spotlight

Misbah-ul-Haq is the leading the ODI batting charts this year with 961 runs at an average of 60.06. He has scored 11 half-centuries this year, but has not been able to break the 128-match century drought. He can be destructive with the bat, but such opportunities do not come often, as he is mostly required to build the innings after a top-order collapse. He would hope that the home conditions in the UAE will help the batsmen ahead of him to at least set a platform for him in this series.

David Miller smashed an unbeaten 96 in his last competitive match, in the domestic one-day tournament six days ago. But he has shown in the ODIs recently that he also has the holding game that's required of a middle-order batsman from time to time. He is likely to get a good run in the UAE, but he will be tested against the trio of Pakistan spinners.

Team news

Pakistan have brought in a new set of players for the limited-overs leg, which means it will be an entirely different top order from what featured in Tests. Also, Umar Akmal is back in the squad after missing the Zimbabwe series. Another addition is the left-arm seamer Sohail Tanvir, who could be included if Pakistan opt for a three-seamer attack.

Pakistan (probable) 1 Nasir Jamshed, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 5 Umar Akmal (wk), 6 Asad Shafiq, 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Saeed Ajmal, 9 Sohail Tanvir, 10 Junaid Khan, 11 Mohammad Irfan

With Hashim Alma and Dale Steyn not available - Amla has returned home for the birth of his child and Steyn has asked for rest - South Africa are likely to induct a number of new joinees. AB de Villiers said on the eve of the match that he was looking for the "tactically right" combination to take a 1-0 lead, without revealing the plans.

South Africa (probable) 1 Colin Ingram/Quinton de Kock, 2 Graeme Smith, 3 JP Duminy, 4 AB de Villiers (capt), 5 Faf du Plessis, 6 David Miller, 7 Wayne Parnell, 8 Ryan McLaren, 9 Robin Peterson, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe

Stats and trivia

  • South Africa and Pakistan have played each other 63 times out of which Pakistan have won only 20 matches. The win-loss ratio of 0.47 is Pakistan's worst against any team
  • Misbah has faced 1334 deliveries in ODIs this year. Rohit Sharma is the only other batsman to have played more than 1000
  • Ryan McLaren is the leading wicket-taker this year for South African with 30 dismissals
  • 211 ODIs have been played at Sharjah. Pakistan have played in 112 of them, while South Africa have only played 10


"He is a world class player, no doubt about that and he surprised everyone with the ball over the last few years and was the top bowler in the one-dayers. We have seen a lot of them and we are looking forward to the challenges here."
AB de Villiers on the threat posed by Mohammad Hafeez

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo