World T20 prep begins for South Africa, Pakistan
Match factsWednesday, November 13, 2013
Start time 2000 local (1600 GMT)
Big PictureIn the space of 10 days, Pakistan and South Africa will play four Twenty20s, in what can be seen as the one of the longest mini-series the format has seen to date. In reality, these are two separate contests.
The first one was planned months ago, as the dessert to South Africa's ongoing UAE tour. The second was hastily arranged as a snack for South African cricket supporters who will see less of India than was originally scheduled. Together, they will script an intriguing narrative across continents that will rigorously examine the skill of both sides four months ahead of the World Twenty20.
For both teams this is the first of seven matches before the global event. Pakistan will play Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, while South Africa have three matches against Australia to fine tune.
There is still time to find combinations but they will both want to settle on them quickly and allow players time to adjust to their roles. For South Africa, the main decisions will be with the top order and the seam-bowling trio, while Pakistan will look to settle on a middle order and find an allrounder. They will be considered favourites, especially on current form, and have the added incentive of becoming the top-ranked team in Twenty20 cricket should they sweep the series. South Africa, though, have all the confidence having won the ODIs.
Pakistan WWWWW (completed games, most recent first)
South Africa LWWLW
In the spotlightSohaib Maqsood had a moderate start to his international career with 26 runs from two T20s matches against Zimbabwe but erased that from memory with the way he began his ODI run. Back-to-back half-centuries against South Africa showed him to be a clean hitter of the ball who is able to find good placement. He is aggressive and unafraid to show it. If Pakistan hope to turn around the indifferent batting performances from their one-day showings, they will need him to come good in the shortest format.
After a lean run, not dissimilar to the one he has had in the UAE, Faf du Plessis scored 85 in a T20 in Sri Lanka to boost his confidence. At the time he said he really needed those runs and he needs them again. In the format in which he captains, du Plessis will want to lead by example. He will need to find a way to keep the scoreboard moving against a slew of spinners who have thus far kept him quiet.
Team newsAlthough Mohammad Hafeez has batted lower down the order in this format, he may choose to open to keep the same top order as Pakistan had in the ODIs. Sohaib Maqsood has been successful at No. 3 in the fifty-over format and may stay there. Shoaib Malik could make his return in the middle order with Abdul Razzaq also in line for a comeback. Pakistan may overlook him if they opt for an extra spinner in Abdur Rehman. It may also be time to rest Mohammad Irfan, who has played every match on the tour so far.
Pakistan: (likely) 1 Mohammad Hafeez (capt), 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Sohaib Maqsood 4 Umar Amin, 5 Shoaib Malik, 6 Umar Akmal (wk), 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Abdul Razzaq/Abdur Rehman 9 Sohail Tanvir, 10 Junaid Khan/Mohammad Irfan, 11 Saeed Ajmal
South Africa are spoilt for choice at the top with Quinton de Kock having found form, Hashim Amla back in the T20 squad and Henry Davids, the incumbent, in good nick in domestic cricket. Amla may find himself missing out. Dale Steyn has also made himself available for the shortest format and will likely slot back in. That will mean South Africa may have to choose two out of Morne Morkel, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Wayne Parnell. With Imran Tahir enjoying these conditions, he will likely be selected ahead of Aaron Phangiso.
South Africa: (likely)1 Henry Davids, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk) 3 Faf du Plessis (capt), 4 JP Duminy 5 AB de Villiers, 6 David Miller, 7 Ryan McLaren, 8 Dale Steyn 9 and 10 Morne Morkel/Lonwabo Tsotsobe/Wayne Parnell, 11 Imran Tahir
Stats and trivia
- This is the only format in which Pakistan have dominance over South Africa. Of the eight matches the two teams have contested, Pakistan have won four and lost three with one abandoned. But, two of South Africa's three victories over Pakistan have come in the UAE, both in Abu Dhabi, on the 2010 tour
- Ahmed Shehzad is one run behind Aaron Finch in this year's Twenty20 batting charts, with 261 runs
Quotes"They have the potential to beat us 2-0 but we also have the potential to do that. It's going to be a fight out there. We are not going to give an inch and I am sure they will do the same."
AB de Villiers expects a tense affair as both teams go all out for victory
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent