An under-pressure Pakistan will take on the No 1 ODI team South Africa at Edgbaston on Wednesday. Pakistan are coming off a drubbing by India in their opening match. South Africa, on the other hand, will play their second match of the 2017 Champions Trophy, coming off a comprehensive win over Sri Lanka. They have recently lost the three-match ODI series against England 1-2, but it will have little bearing on their performance against Pakistan. AB de Villiers and Co. will look to stamp their authority over a struggling Pakistan ODI team.
South Africa overview and analysis:
South Africa are the No 1 ODI team thanks to a consistent show in limited-overs cricket for the past couple of seasons. They will look to shed their choker’s tag in multi-nation tournaments. Their only win in ICC tournaments came in 1998 KnockOut Trophy when they beat West Indies in the final. AB will look to change South Africa’s fortunes in 2017 Champions Trophy.
South Africa strengths:
A compact batting line-up: South Africa have a batting line-up that is one of the best in world cricket. Led by Superman AB de Villiers, South Africa’s batting unit is an envy of every team. All their batsmen are in form and raring to go in the Champions Trophy and shed their choker’s tag in multi-nation tournaments. They have the trusted Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock at the top of the order, followed by Faf du Plessis, AB, JP Duminy, David Miller and an all-rounder in Chris Morris.
Good bowling and fielding unit: South Africa are also bolstered by their good pace unit comprising Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell. They also have a quality spinner in Imran Tahir who had a good IPL season with Rising Pune Supergiant. Plus , South Africa are a brilliant fielding unit, so they have all their bases covered.
The choker’s tag: South Africa have always struggled in key games and opponents who have been ranked below them. They would be wary of an unpredictable Pakistan team who can get inspired from all the backlash they are receiving from the loss against India. South Africa need to make sure they don’t fall to their perennial problem of choking at crunch moments and losing the plot.
South Africa playing XI (probable): Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Imrah Tahir, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell
Pakistan overview and analysis:
Pakistan are ranked No 8 in ODI rankings and are easily the most vulnerable team in this competition. They were crushed by India in the last league game. However, trust Pakistan to inspire themselves when their back is against the wall. Pakistan would look to prove doubters wrong and post a fighting performance against the No 1 ODI team.
Pacers: Mohammad Amir had a good game against India before he walked off from the field due to strain. If he is fit and available for the match, he can destroy any line-up. Also, Pakistan should go for Junaid Khan as a replacement for Wahab Riaz, who has been ruled out of the tournament due to injury. Junaid will be the unknown factor for South Africa. Hasan Ali too did not fared that badly against India. The trio of pacers will be crucial to Pakistan’s chances in the match.
Quality batsmen: Pakistan have a few quality batsmen in Shoaib Malik, Azhar Ali and Mohammad Hafeez. However, they came a cropper against India. Malik was looking good in his brief stay at the crease against India. However, a Ravindra Jadeja’s brilliance saw the end of Malik. The Pakistan batsman will look to get on the groove in this clash.
Inexperience: Pakistan have a young team who are struggling to get in sync with the demands of limited-overs cricket. They are ranked No 8 in the ODI rankings. Their bowling was butchered in the clash against India. Their bowling faces a heavy challenge against South Africa’s strong batting line-up. Their batting too lacks the experience to stand against quality bowling line-up.
Poor fielding: Pakistan dropped a few easy catches and committed errors on the fields. Some of the misfielding were hilarious and ridiculous coming from an international team. In close games, these dropped chances can be difference between victory and defeat.
Pakistan Playing XI (probable): Sarfraz Ahmed (Captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Fahim Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Junaid Khan.
Prediction: South Africa are a strong limited-overs team and one of the favourites to go all the way in the Champions Trophy. They had a close ODI series against England. But over the past couple of seasons, they have a good record in limited-overs, making them the No 1 ODI team. They have depth in batting and bowling and could counter any challenges posed by Pakistan team. Sarfraz Ahmed and Co. have struggled in his format of late. They, however, can be competitive against South Africa. But our vote goes to Proteas to go the distance in this clash.
Possible winner: South Africa
Who Will Win Today?
- South Africa (66%, 389 Votes)
- Pakistan (34%, 202 Votes)
Total Voters: 591