Pressure on Pakistan to liven up contest
Friday, November 15, 2013
Start time 2000 local (1600GMT)
If Wednesday set the tone for this four-match, two-country mini-series then we don't have much to look forward to in the next week. It was as one-sided an affair as you can get in the shortest format and both teams will hope for something more competitive as the UAE leg of their contest comes to an end.
It will be up to Pakistan to make it more of a duel. Their batting collapses have become the source of serious concern as poor shot selection and lack of application continues to haunt them. They need someone to bat through, another few to bat with him, partnerships to form and more resistance put up. In short, they need more dedication and more fight.
South Africa's bowlers have hardly been challenged so far and it would make a welcome change if they were. Their batting has improved consistently through the ODIs and although they didn't have to do much beyond the formalities on Wednesday, they will want to assert themselves even further before heading home, where batting is likely to be more difficult.
Form guide(last five completed games most recent first)
South Africa WLWWL
In the spotlight
Shoaib Malik spent 35 minutes at the crease - the second-longest stint of any Pakistan batsmen (Umar Akmal batted for 55 minutes) - faced 23 balls but only had 12 runs to show for it. He demonstrated the right mindset in wanting to give himself a little bit of time to settle in but the wrong intent when he grew so frustrated that he fell into the trap of chasing a wide ball and being stumped. If he can avoid making a similar error, Malik is the likeliest candidate to take responsibility in the Pakistan line-up, a quality they certainly need.
He does not have the aggression and pace of Dale Steyn but Lonwabo Tsotsobe has played an equally important role with the new ball. In conditions where he has found some swing and bounce, Tsotsobe has been a perfect partner to Steyn. After concerns over his fitness in Sri Lanka, he has come back committed and performing well. He dedicated his showing on Wednesday night to his father and brother - incidentally it was their birthday although the former has passed - and said he wants to follow up with something just as special in the final match.
Neither Ahmed Shehzad nor Sohaib Maqsood was successful at the top of the order so Mohammad Hafeez may consider returning there despite the prospect of having to face Steyn early on. Nasir Jamshed may also come into contention if Maqsood is dropped. The middle order should remain the same but Abdur Rehman could find himself out of the XI. Mohammad Irfan is due a break and may make way for Junaid Khan.
Pakistan: (likely) 1 Mohammad Hafeez (capt)/Nasir Jamshed, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Hafeez/Sohaib Maqsood, 4 Shoaib Malik, 5 Umar Akmal (wk), 6 Shahid Afridi, 7 Abdul Razzaq, 8 Sohail Tanvir, 9 Saeed Ajmal, 10 and 11 Junaid Khan/Mohammad Irfan/Abdur Rehman
South Africa have sent Morne Morkel and JP Duminy home to give the pair, who play in all formats, some rest ahead of the home summer. That may make room for Henry Davids to come back into the XI, with either Hashim Amla or Quinton de Kock moving down the order. The team management also indicated that AB de Villiers would need to have a break and if he sits out, David Wiese could come into contention. South Africa may also consider swapping spinners with Imran Tahir making way for Aaron Phangiso.
South Africa: (likely) 1 Henry Davids, 2 Hashim Amla 3, Quinton de Kock (wk) 4 Faf du Plessis (capt), 5 AB de Villiers/David Wiese, 6 David Miller, 7 Ryan McLaren, 8 Wayne Parnell, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Lonwabo Tsotsobe, 11 Imran Tahir/Aaron Phangiso
Stats and trivia
- If South Africa win the series 2-0, they will go up to No.2 on the ICC T20 rankings, from their current position of fifth. If Pakistan manage to square the series 1-1, they will stay second, with South Africa staying at fifth place.
- The head to head record between these two teams is not exactly the same. Both have won four matches.
"We're just playing really good cricket at the moment. We're understanding what we want to do in T20 cricket. If you understand your roles, you will be the best you can be."
Faf du Plessis believes South Africa's T20 side is on the right path and its showing in the way they outplayed Pakistan.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent