Batting worries remain for both sides
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Start time 1500 local (1100GMT)
What was orginally a five-match series, has suddenly mutated into something much more. On the eve of the third ODI, the South African and Pakistan boards announced another series between the two, starting mere days after this one ends. Three more ODIs and two more T20s will take the number of limited-overs matches played between the two teams to 12 in the space of a month.
That probably means the pressure of the current series has been somewhat lifted because of the marathon contest it has become. That news is probably more welcomed by South Africa, whose limited-overs batsmen have failed to adapt to the UAE conditions, and look lost against Pakistan's spinners.
Though they will have Hashim Amla back for the remainder of the tour, which should add some stability, their middle-order worries are likely to remain. With Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez all continuing to cause problems, one of AB de Villiers, JP Duminy or Faf du Plessis need to step up.
A similar appraisal could be made of Pakistan's line-up, who have also been faltering in the middle. Umar Amin and Umar Akmal are yet to make meaningful contributions. In their case though, it is pace, rather than spin, that has got the better of them.
Both bowling attacks continue to impress, marking a change from the usual high-scoring gluts that this format can produce. But even that novelty is likely to soon wear off as the teams are going to be playing against each other till the end of the month.
Form guide(last five completed games most recent first)
South Africa LWLLW
In the spotlight
He has operated as more of a frontline bowler than frontline batsman in the series so far and Mohammad Hafeez will be keen to turn that around. After being left out of the Test series, Hafeez has plenty to prove with the bat.
Dale Steyn is not guaranteed a place in the XI because of how well South Africa's attack has operated in his absence, but he has rejoined the squad and could replace Morne Morkel as part of a rotation policy. After dismissing Hafeez eight times in seven Tests and three times in six ODIs, Steyn may be itching to have a go, just so he can come up against the batsman that he has had so much success against.
Pakistan won the second match, but that does not mean their XI couldn't do with some tinkering. Nasir Jamshed's continual failings at the top may prompt an experimentation with Sohaib Maqsood, while Wahab Riaz's place in the team will also be questioned. Apart from two meaty sixes, his only role in the second ODI was to bowl two overs. With the spinners causing plenty of problems, Pakistan may choose to leave Riaz out and strengthen the batting instead.
Pakistan: (likely) 1 Nasir Jamshed/Sohaib Maqsood, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 5 Umar Amin, 6 Umar Akmal (wk), 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Sohail Tanvir, 9 Wahab Riaz, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Mohammad Irfan
South Africa sent Colin Ingram home as soon as they could - he even managed to play in a domestic one-day match on Sunday - because they were assured of Hashim Amla's return. Following the birth of his second child, Amla will return to the top of the order to partner Graeme Smith and add experience to a line-up which has looked fragile.
Should South Africa want to make a change in the middle, their only option would be to bring in Robin Peterson, who has batted higher up than his usual No.8 position in the past, for du Plessis. Steyn has also rejoined the squad, although it may be tricky to find a spot for him in an attack which has done very well in his absence. He may replace Morkel, in keeping with the policy of resting the quicks, or he may join Vernon Philander for drinks duty.
South Africa: (likely) 1 Graeme Smith, 2 Hashim Amla, 3 JP Duminy, 4 Faf du Plessis/Robin Peterson, 5 AB de Villiers (capt & wk), 6 David Miller, 7 Ryan McLaren, 8 Wayne Parnell, 9 Morne Morkel/Dale Steyn, 10 Lonwabo Tsotsobe, 11 Imran Tahir
Stats and trivia
- Hashim Amla's ODI record against Pakistan will give South Africa a confidence boost. He has a batting average of 57.60, marginally higher than his 54.85 overall, and two of his 11 centuries have come against them.
- Although Faf du Plessis has had a lean year, he has one record he can be proud of. He is second on the list of the most catches in ODIs in 2013 with 13 to his name, two behind Suresh Raina.
"It's not Afridi versus South Africa, its Pakistan versus South Africa. This current team is a mix of seniors and juniors and I am feeling younger with each passing day."
Although he has not contributed much with the bat, Shahid Afridi's exploits with the ball have left him excited about performing for Pakistan's attack
"A lot of us, including myself, have got in to 20's and 30's and gone out. The guys that are in, need to take the responsibility to push on to get 80's and 100's. We have done the business in the past; it's about making sure we back ourselves to do it again."
JP Duminy knows small starts have to be converted if South Africa are to improve their batting
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent