South Africa v Pakistan, 1st Twenty20, Durban February 28, 2013

Teams start even in new format


Match Facts

March 1, 2013
Start time 1800 local (1600GMT)

Big Picture

South Africa's summer of Test cricket is over but the sunshine and good times are not. Another three weeks of activity awaits and it is up to the limited-overs formats to turn what has been a one-sided series into a competitive, two-way street.

The balance has definitely tipped. It is no longer a No.1 ranked team in conditions that suit them up against a side determined to prove something. Both South Africa and Pakistan hover in the middle of the Twenty20 rankings at the moment. While South Africa have never tasted the success of a major trophy, Pakistan have and were responsible for dumping South Africa out of the 2009 World Twenty20 - which they went on to win - and beating them in both other meetings at a major tournament.

That fact sums up the difference between the two teams' approaches to limited-overs cricket. Pakistan have won when it matters, South Africa have when it doesn't. Add that to the hosts' current state of transition and Pakistan will see an opportunity to strike. They have with them a wealth of experience headed by Shahid Afridi while South Africa's young squad includes only four Test regulars.

In essence, this is a clash between a team still experimenting with the format and one that has never had the same urgency to master it because they thrive in unpredictability. Pakistan can be expected to bring every element of themselves that has made the world fall in love with cricket over and over again: the late batting-order revival, the surprise wickets, the picture-perfect catch. If all those elements combine perfectly, it will make for good viewing.

South Africa have promised to be more clinical, a suggestion that hints at no more floating batting line-up and miscalculations over who will bowl at the death. Given their haphazard approach to the shortest format, that shows they are taking it more seriously. The key will be not to be too rigid.

It's set up to be a contest of Pakistan's ability to light flames versus South Africa's new cool and supposedly inflammable nature. What a thrill it would be if the series sets on fire.

Form guide

(Most recent first)
South Africa: WLWLL
Pakistan: LWLWL

In the Spotlight:

Although Faf du Plessis led the team with aplomb in their three-match series against New Zealand late last year, he was merely a stand-in then. Now, he is officially the permanent captain of the team and that will bring different pressure. Du Plessis has already shown he has the maturity to deal with being one of the senior-most batsmen in the XI and leading it and with a young squad under his command, the need for him to continue in that vein will be even more pressing.

His opposite number Mohammed Hafeez will also be under the microscope but for individual reasons. Hafeez was dismal with bat in hand in the Test series but now returns to the format where he has enjoyed much success. He does not have a red ball or Dale Steyn to worry about and Pakistan will be looking to him to kickstart some success for them on a tour that has so far brought only struggle.

Team news:

In yet another shift in roles for AB de Villiers, the former captain will now open the batting and keep wickets. That probably means no space for young Quinton de Kock who had gloves in hand for the matches against New Zealand and batted at No.3. New leader du Plessis will bat out of his preferred position (the top two), but will most likely come in at No.3. Chris Morris will likely slot in the lower middle-order, which will leave Rory Kleinveldt, Kyle Abbott and Ryan McLaren to fight for two spots if Lonwabo Tsotsobe plays. Aaron Phangiso may miss out to Robin Peterson in the spinner's role.

South Africa: (probable) 1 AB de Villiers (wk), 2 Henry Davids, 3 Faf du Plessis (capt), 4 Justin Ontong, 5 David Miller, 6 Farhaan Behardien, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Robin Peterson, 9 and 10 Rory Kleinveldt/Kyle Abbott/Ryan McLaren, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe

Pakistan welcome back a galaxy of stars, with their brightest being Afridi. If the mercurial all-rounder brings his best side, it will be an immediate boost to them. The Akmal brothers, with Kamran likely to keep, are also back. Junaid Khan has recovered from the thigh wound which kept him out of the last two Tests, and is available for selection.

Pakistan: (probable) 1 Nasir Jamshed, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Mohammed Hafeez (capt), 4 Umar Akmal, 5 Shoaib Malik, 6 Kamran Akmal (wk), 7 Shahid Afridi, 8, Wahab Riaz/Juniad Khan 9 Umar Gul, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Mohammed Irfan

Stats and Trivia:

  • Only one point separates these two teams on the rankings. South Africa are at No.5 and Pakistan No.6
  • The longest winning streak enjoyed by both South Africa and Pakistan is seven matches. South Africa's was between March and June 2009 and Pakistan's in the same year between June and November.
  • The teams have played each other six times in T20s, with each side winning three. Their last encounter was at the World Twenty20 in September last year, which Pakistan won.


"We are practising skills now that we want to be better at in six to ten games time. It's not going to happen now because we don't have a lot of time together as a T20 squad."
South Africa's new captain Faf du Plessis is looking to the future as he takes charge of the national side

"We are really missing crowd support because we don't play cricket at home. If we can get some support, it will be good."
Mohammed Hafeez hopes to tap into the sub-continental heritage of Durban and swing the fans his team's way

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on March 1, 2013, 16:37 GMT

    "Alas I was eagerly waiting for this game but the rain has wiped out all the excitement......But i believe that Pakistan has fair chance to deliver some good ckt in this series!!!"But it is quiet intresting to see whether Afridi's inclusion in the team will prove some betterment for the team or not!"

  • dummy4fb on March 1, 2013, 16:32 GMT

    can't wait for this T20 Pak must come back strongly to beat SA,

  • dummy4fb on March 1, 2013, 16:24 GMT

    Pakistan is favorite and will win inshallah

  • dummy4fb on March 1, 2013, 15:17 GMT

    Faf was a stand-out performer in the IPL. And, looks like a potential short format great! He has guts and gumption. He will certainly energise the fielding, by setting personal example. Good move by SA in trying him out at captaincy.

    Smith is not getting any younger or better. AB is good, but looks it's too much for him to handle both wicket keeping & captaincy. Look at Sanga, the moment they found a good WK, he surrendered wicket keeping to focus on Captaincy ( What keeps on happening to captaincy in SL is another matter)

  • Solid_Snake on March 1, 2013, 14:58 GMT

    @greenydude:How many chances Imran Nazir got? He was given chance in whole WC T20 but he failed.Every time throwing away his wicket.Plays silly shots.Too easy to trap him.He is just another form of Afridi.We cannot afford more than one Afridi type batsmen in the team

  • dummy4fb on March 1, 2013, 14:50 GMT

    Different format, different captains but the result will be same.....Victory for SA.

  • Aizikhan on March 1, 2013, 14:33 GMT

    The only reason I'm heading to this T20 is , Mohammad Irfan and Junaid Khan ! We have already seen tons of Charm from Afridi and akmal brothers !

  • dummy4fb on March 1, 2013, 14:32 GMT

    @xylofon- As an Indian , I always consider Umar Akmal as one of the major threat to us , hes amazing player and its delight to see him playing , but most of the time he always find a way to ruin a good start , But in his good 30-40 runs and some 60-70 runs inning he shows that if PCB give him a confidence , He can be a core player in future

  • 2nd_Slip on March 1, 2013, 14:25 GMT

    Having had 3 weeks of baking sunshine in Durban, tell you what, its been drizzling for the good part 16 hours. Another chance to see the #1 test team in action looking highly unlikely for me. Anyway, its just that silly T20 thing. Obsession in this format is what is killing Indian,Pakistan,Srilankan and (Australian) cricket of late. These teams have good potential but its hugely hampered by introducing young cricketers to this hit an giggle stuff early on in their careers. Im actually gratefull that De Kock is not part of the t20 squad as I see him as a huge role player in the future SA test team.The less t20 he plays the better. Good e.g Faf has settled well in the test arena because of not having played alot of t20 cricket before his test debut. Oppiste to that we have Raina and Rohit Sharma of India who have done the opposite.

  • dummy4fb on March 1, 2013, 14:12 GMT

    Hope that the Pakistan have psychologically recovered from the Test series battering -scars left have sufficiently healed. Induction of players past their best does not augur well for future. Upcoming talent should have been given their fair chance !