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The Preview by Firdose Moonda
March 16, 2013
Match factsMarch 17, 2013, Johannesburg
Big PictureIf one-day series have to be this drawn out - this five-match one will take 15 days to complete - at least they should reach their mid-point with all to play for. Pakistan's comeback in Centurion has ensured that is the case and set the contest up for an exciting second half.
With just over 34 hours separating the end of the second match on Friday night and the start of the third one on Sunday morning, this is the only time in the series where momentum may matter because there is such little time to reflect. For Pakistan, that's good news.
They did almost everything right at SuperSport Park, although there are a few things they will want to improve on. After having South Africa 62 for 5, they probably conceded more than they would have liked to. They also made heavy weather of the small chase upfront and will want one of the top three batsmen to go on to post a big score.
Those things involve fine-tuning but South Africa have to look at the broader problems. Again, they found themselves in a pressure situation and again, they could not emerge from it. Farhaan Behardien's determination served as an indication that the middle order is firming up but now they need a collective effort.
Their only fault in the field was a lack of control as AB de Villiers edged dangerously close to being behind the over-rate. Mini-conferences between deliveries and constant changes of fields indicated how hard he was trying to create something but that needs to be tempered with some urgency.
Form guide(Most recent first)
In the spotlightHashim Amla has teased with starts in both matches so far but a nasty habit of inside-edging is blighting his game. Usually known for his cool head, Amla has looked hasty in his approach. In his reign as the No.1 ranked ODI batsman in the world, Amla has struck that balance so far but with Graeme Smith struggling and an inexperienced middle order, he is not getting it quite right in this series yet.
With Mohammed Irfan in doubt with a hamstring injury, it will fall to Umar Gul to lead the Pakistan attack once again. Gul has only had one impressive performance on tour, his explosive 5 for 6 in the Twenty20, but he has not taken a single wicket in the ODIs. Moreover, he has been expensive and although he succeeded in troubling Smith in the first match, he was ineffective in the second. If Pakistan hope for a repeat of their Centurion showing, Gul will have to up his game significantly.
Team newsFarhaan Behardien earned himself a few more matches with the only half-century of the innings in Centurion which will keep David Miller out further. Dale Steyn's return means that if Rory Kleinveldt has not recovered from the rib niggle that kept him out of Friday's match, the attack will also stay the same.
South Africa: (probable) 1 Graeme Smith 2 Hashim Amla 3 Colin Ingram, 4 AB de Villiers (capt & wk), 5 Faf du Plessis, 6 Farhaan Behardien, 7 Ryan McLaren 8 Robin Peterson 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Kyle Abbott/Rory Kleinveldt, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe
After Kamran Akmal partnered Mohammad Hafeez with some success in Centurion, pressure will mount on the management to let him open. That would mean only a reshuffle in the batting order with Hafeez dropping to No.3. Pakistan did not miss the extra batsman on Friday and will stick to the same combination with three fast bowlers and Saeed Ajmal as long as Irfan is fit. If Irfan does not play, Wahab Riaz may come in.
Pakistan: (probable) 1, 2 and 3 Nasir Jamshed/Kamran Akmal (wk)/Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Shoaib Malik, 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Umar Gul, 9 Saeed Ajmal 10 Junaid Khan, 11 Mohammed Irfan/Wahab Riaz
Pitch and conditionsSix years ago, this was the ground that produced what it still advertised as the "Greatest ODI of all time," the 438 game between South Africa and Australia. The Wanderers one-day surface promises runs and pace and more of the same can be expected. The weather forecast is clear during the day with a shower possible in the evening.
Unrelated to the match, but of interest nonetheless is that the stadium will be turned pink in support of breast cancer awareness and the organisers are attempting to break the record for the most number of people wearing pink in one place on a day.
Stats and trivia
"We've had two one-sided games so far because one of the teams hasn't turned up. We didn't turn up today and Pakistan didn't in Bloemfontein. If both teams pitch up at the Wanderers, hopefully it will be a very exciting game on Sunday. We will still be favourites because of home conditions on a bouncy and pacy track at the Wanderers."
AB de Villiers
"With the fielding restrictions, you need to pick wickets. Chasing five or six runs an over is easy to get when batsmen are settled. Every batsmen needs to go and get some big knocks. We really need to show some responsibility and just go on."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala