Pakistan v South Africa, 2nd ODI, Dubai October 31, 2013

A bowl-off between two aggressive attacks

Match facts

Friday, November 1, 2013
Start time 1500 local (1100GMT)

Big Picture

On a day when 701 runs were scored in the India-Australia ODI in Nagpur, fans of the 50-over format were reminded of the drama of a low-scoring thriller, as South Africa nudged out Pakistan by one run in a tense game. However, if AB de Villiers has his way, it's unlikely there will be any more tight matches in the series.

De Villiers hoped the win would act as a catalyst for South Africa, creating more consistent one-day form for a team that has struggled to hit the high notes they find with ease in the longer format. "You need a win like this sometimes to turn things around," de Villiers said, while admitting he does not know why the batting line-up continues to fail. "We are not getting partnerships going; not playing well together as a batting unit. I believe we will get there."

Graeme Smith's return has added some stability but South Africa's middle order is still shaky. Technique, although something that cannot be altered overnight, in the UAE conditions and against a crafty spin attack is still being exposed even as the bowlers continue to save the team blushes.

Pakistan are in the same state. Their bowling attack is capable of putting the team in positions of advantage that their batsmen continually squander. They will have to find a way to play their former countryman Imran Tahir and keep runs flowing while the South Africa seamers are in operation.

For now, it remains a contest that resembles a bowl-off between two aggressive attacks feasting on two limp line-ups. In a game ruled by batsmen, that's not necessarily a bad thing, although both teams would prefer to score more runs.

Form guide

Pakistan LWWLW (last five completed games most recent first)
South Africa WLLWL

In the spotlight

A few Pakistan fans joked that because Shahid Afridi had a sensational showing with the ball in the first match, he could be relied on to taper off for the rest of the series. It's a theory he will want to prove wrong. Afridi did not take a single wicket against South Africa earlier this year and has not made a significant contribution with the bat since his innings of 76 against West Indies in July. He will search for some consistency as Pakistan hope to come back in the series.

Faf du Plessis has now gone 10 innings without scoring an ODI half-century and appears the most vulnerable middle-order batsman against Pakistan spinners. He has had a long rope, playing in all but two ODIs since he was selected in January 2011, but with an average of 27.19, his reputation can no longer be the main ground for his selection. Du Plessis needed a big performance in the first ODI to keep his place, but the lack of a suitable middle-order replacement means he is likely to have the rest of the series to turn his form around.

Team news

After their middle order crumbled, Pakistan may consider shuffling personnel. Asad Shafiq and uncapped Sohaib Maqsood will put pressure on Umar Amin for his place but the more pressing concerns are in the wicket-keeping department. AB de Villiers has admitted that Pakistan's tail starts with Umar Akmal, and the hosts may consider replacing Akmal with Sarfraz Ahmed. An attack that dismissed the opposition for under 200 needs little tinkering with, but Abdur Rehman is on hand should Pakistan opt for another spinner.

Pakistan (likely) 1 Nasir Jamshed, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 5 Umar Amin/Asad Shafiq/Sohaib Maqsood, 6 Umar Akmal/Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Sohail Tanvir, 9 Wahab Riaz, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Mohammad Irfan

Colin Ingram is leading the run charts in South Africa's domestic one-day competition but, with three ducks in his last three ODIs, his form isn't extending to the international stage. Hashim Amla is still waiting for the birth of his second child so South Africa may have no option but to bring Quinton de Kock in, although they may leave the glovework to de Villiers. Tahir's impressive showing in Sharjah is likely to keep Robin Peterson out again and Vernon Philander will also have to await his turn.

South Africa (likely) 1 Graeme Smith, 2 Quinton de Kock, 3 JP Duminy, 4 Faf du Plessis, 5 AB de Villiers (capt & wk), 6 David Miller, 7 Ryan McLaren, 8 Wayne Parnell, 9 Morne Morkel, 10 Lonwabo Tsotsobe, 11 Imran Tahir

Stats and trivia

  • South Africa and Pakistan have played two five-match ODI series since 2010-11. Both series have followed exactly the same pattern where South Africa have won the first, third and deciding matches, while Pakistan have won the second and fourth.
  • The one run difference between the two teams is the smallest margin of victory (in runs) this year. South Africa were also involved in two matches that ended with a one-wicket margin - both against New Zealand.
  • Misbah-ul-Haq is 102 runs behind George Bailey on the list of leading ODI run-scorers in 2013. With 41 wickets, Saeed Ajmal is two wickets behind Ravindra Jadeja on the list of leading wicket-takers in ODIs this year.


"It's really tough to get ten wickets in the game, so that's why the totals are really close together. Back home, you get lower scores, guys really running through batting line-ups."
AB de Villiers on why there are so many tightly fought contests in ODIs in subcontinent conditions

"If we keep recalling what happened in the last match it will be difficult. We must forget that and all our players should play the next match as a new game."
Misbah-ul-Haq offers some advice to his team after their loss in the first ODI

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent