South Africa v Pakistan, 5th ODI, Benoni March 23, 2013

Big day for Benoni with series on the line


Match Facts

March 24, 2013
Start time 1000 local (0800GMT)

Big Picture

Sunday could well be Benoni's biggest day since Charlize Theron won the Oscar. International cricket seldom reaches Johannesburg's East Rand and when it does, it is unlikely to be this meaningful. For both South Africa and Pakistan, its Benoni or bust in their last outing before the Champions Trophy and they will have a sell-out crowd to do that in front of.

The series has got steadily more competitive as it has progressed, so the 8,500-odd people can expect a fiery affair especially because there is more than just a trophy on the line for both teams. Reputation tends to mean more than silverware in bilateral ODI series anyway.

For South Africa, it is a chance to give their home fans a format to cheer them in that is not Test cricket and to prove to them they have developed as a limited-overs unit. After winning all five longest form fixtures, South Africa's Twenty20 and ODI squads did not follow suit. They are in transition but even a phase of change cannot go on without some reward.

Sporadically, South Africa have had it. They blew Pakistan away in Bloemfontein and defended stoically at the Wanderers. But consistently, they have not. When forced into situations from which they have to respond unconventionally, they struggle - an indication that the evolution into a complete unit is still, as Gary Kirsten would put it, in process.

For Pakistan, the picture may not be that big. They are more likely to be focused on the immediate goal of leaving this tour with enough to be able to call it a success. Misbah-ul-Haq indicated at the very beginning that he expected the Test phase to be difficult but the limited-overs contests to be the area in which Pakistan could push South Africa and even topple them over.

So far, they have. They've exposed the hosts' obvious weaknesses and demonstrated some of their own major strengths. They will want one more big effort to underline those and there would be no better place to that than in the decider.

Form guide

(Most recent first)

South Africa: LWLWW

Pakistan: WLWLL

In the Spotlight:

Instead of one player, it will be South Africa's collective mental strength under scrutiny as they find themselves in a must-win situation. Understandably, it is not a major tournament knockout game and it may have absolutely no bearing on one, but is still a test of character more than it is one of skill and if South Africa have lacked in either department, it is the first. The team will have to take responsibility as a whole and watching how they work together in trying to win the series will be more important than any individual brilliance.

Similarly, Pakistan's big match temperament will be challenged. Twice, they have needed to come back in the rubber and twice they have. Both times, they've got the bit between their teeth early. If that happens again, they are likely to run away with it. If it doesn't, they will have to be up to clambering their way out of trouble. Shahid Afridi showed how to do it at the Wanderers but it may take more than one firework to light up the contest.

Team news:

Graeme Smith's ankle injury means that Quinton de Kock will appear for the first time in the series in the position he prefers. Morne Morkel has been declared fit to play and could come in place of Dale Steyn if Steyn's shoulder is still acting up after he hurt it in the field.

South Africa: (probable) 1 Quinton de Kock, 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Colin Ingram, 4 AB de Villiers (capt, wk), 5 David Miller, 6 Farhaan Behardien, 7 Ryan McLaren 8 Robin Peterson 9 Dale Steyn/Morne Morkel, 10 Rory Kleinveldt, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe

Imran Farhat's successful recall means Nasir Jamshed will miss out again. The only batting place up for debate is Younis Khan's. Pakistan may look to bring in Asad Shafiq in place of the underperforming Younis. If Umar Gul is available, he may replace Wahab Riaz but the rest of the bowing will remain unchanged.

Pakistan: (probable) 1 Imran Farhat, 2 Mohammad Hafeez, 3 Kamran Akmal (wkt), 4 Younis Khan/Asad Shafiq, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Shoaib Malik, 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Wahab Riaz, 9 Saeed Ajmal 10 Junaid Khan, 11 Mohammed Irfan

Pitch and conditions:

Known to be as lifeless as the town around it can sometimes seem, the Benoni pitch will not be expected to do anything too special. It should be sluggish, a few will keep low and it will be hard work for batsmen and bowlers alike. A typical late summer's day with warm temperatures is forecast but there is a chance of an afternoon thundershower.

Stats and Trivia:

* Victory for Pakistan would give them their first win in a bilateral series over South Africa

* Willowmoore Park is best known for two things: it was the first ground in the country to have floodlights and it was the venue of Dennis Compton's 300 in a first-class match in 1948-49


"It's two great teams and it was bound to happen that the results would go up and down like a rollercoaster."

David Miller is not surprised that the series is deadlocked going into the final match

"Whenever you come to different conditions, you struggle and not sure when you're starting a series, what you can do in these sorts of surfaces, but after winning two games and levelling the series 2-2 and after seeing different players perform, we are a bit sure and you grow your confidence."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Zubair on March 24, 2013, 17:26 GMT

    When asked by children, who have incidentally seen Yuvraj take Broad for 6 6s, why Afridi is called Boom Boom I now just point them videos of him 17years ago when he got the fastest hundred and was really boom booming for the right reasons. There was something innocent in him then which has been replaced by something else now. I have a feeling the Afridi of today is too pre-occupied about living in the past, preserving his self-importance and remaining attractive in the eyes of his sponsors. For god sake Pak fans, can someone look in to his sponsorship deals to determine if he stands to benefit from hitting sixes and fours rather than scoring runs. I genuinely fear these often lucrative deals have compromised his potential and influenced his approach (Brand Afridi- sixes and fours) to the detriment of his country for too long. By playing to the crowds fantasies, is he guilty of trying to sustain his sponsors for financial gain? You decide without blinkered glasses pls.

  • Dummy4 on March 24, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    One day Team that i suggest would be winning combination ever.... 1-Ahmad Shahzad 2-Hafeez (C) 3-Asad Shafique 4-Azhar Ali 5-Nasir Jamshed 6-Hamad Azam 7-Sohail Tanveer (V.C) 8-umer Gul 9-Saeed Ajmal 10-Sarfraz ahmad W-K 11-Raza Hassan

  • Dummy4 on March 24, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    There is no place of Misbah,Younas,Kamran and afridi in the one day squade of Greens.They are all Old horses an replace with Ahmad Shahzad,Asad Shafiq,Sarfraz and Hamad azam.Hamad is a natural all rounder also well with bowl.

  • Hamza on March 24, 2013, 6:58 GMT

    The time is right for Younis to retire and make way for a youngster . Misbah should remain till the Champions Trophy to bring experience and stability in the middle order . Once the middle order is sorted with a stablizing player and an attacking player it will be time for Misbah to move on . But not yet .

  • Tushar on March 24, 2013, 6:54 GMT

    Afridi is in good touch, why don't they send him up as a pinch hitter...

  • Dummy4 on March 24, 2013, 6:43 GMT

    i think who thinks that afridi or hafeez dropped or malik its not ok.winning combination must not be place of younis khan must be given to umar akmal/asad shafique because both are man in form if they get going especially umar pak must win this series and wahab riaz must be dropped and sohail tanveer must get his position because sohail played alot of domestic cricket in south africa and he knew how to ball in that sort of conditions he is the most experinced player who played cricket in SA so i hope pak must made that changes if they have to win

  • Dummy4 on March 24, 2013, 6:28 GMT

    South Africa have fearsome fast bowlers but they lack in the spin Department. They need more variation in their bowling. They need to prove themselves as this is their home ground. Pakistan is just an average team with average capability. Surely, South Africa can tame these slackers.

  • Harjinder on March 24, 2013, 6:25 GMT

    SA can win this match easily but they need to play sensibly ...they should play for Gary' reputation....I'm sure pak honing to the final odi. good luck SA ........d Kock play blasting inning.........!

  • Dummy4 on March 24, 2013, 5:39 GMT

    dont need to go with 3 left arm seamers.umar gul should play in the last match

  • Syed on March 24, 2013, 5:03 GMT

    The debate about Misbah's retirement is somewhat valid. The reason I say somewhat is because he is the only dependable batter in the side. If it not for him then we would've lost the last match and the series. Younis khan should only concentrate on test cricket as I feel that he is still active enough to play for Pakistan. We still need Misbah's in ODI's coz of stability. I wonder where all the keeper/batsmen are hiding because Kamran is down right embarrassment.

    For this game, Asad should come in for younis. Pakistan Zindabad!

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