Cape Town – Pakistan,
backed up by abundant enough statistical data, are likely to give South Africa
a fiercer scrap in the five-match one-day international series than they did in
the just-completed Test portion of their tour here.
the personnel, across both teams, who took part in the 3-0 sweep achieved by
the Proteas will change for the 50-overs combat, and that is just one reason to
caution against the host nation romping to the ODI trophy simply on the grounds
that they had the Pakistanis in a vice-like grip for so much of the Test
As the 2019
World Cup in England is now little more than four months away, It would be
mutually beneficial, too, if there are some nail-biters along the way in the
next couple of weeks, starting with Saturday’s first meeting at St George’s
Park (13:00), as such games often provide best yardsticks as to which players –
especially among the less proven ones - produce under the heaviest pressure.
other countries, SA and Pakistan are busy fine-tuning their squads and
indulging in liberal amounts of experimentation and individual “trials” in
readiness for the major event.
history points fairly promisingly to the teams being closer together in
competitiveness terms over the next three weeks than proved to be the case in
It would be
short-sighted, for instance, if the Proteas masterminds stick to the mildly
controversial policy during the five-day activity of seeking notably lively –
to the point of “up and down” hallmarks – pitches around the country.
be no way to boost confidence among batsmen ahead of CWC, where surfaces should
be relatively conducive to high totals unless the UK early-summer weather is
grim and the ball seams excessively or turns on sticky, gripping tracks.
You have to
assume it will be preferable to both sides if they encounter at least a few
really true, trustworthy and healthy-paced belters during the looming ODIs.
terms of the current ICC rankings, there is every reason to anticipate
ding-dong fortunes even if the gut feel of many local pundits will be to back
Faf du Plessis and company to do the “double” over these foes: the Proteas are
ranked fourth, and Pakistan just one spot behind in fifth.
have won three series in a row since their embarrassing 5-1 home reverse to
India last season: away against Sri Lanka, home against Zimbabwe, and away
against Australia most recently.
they are finding some renewed levels of polish and consistency, whereas Pakistan,
by contrast, have been crazily unpredictable (psst, heard that one before?) in
ODIs of late.
a three-match series 1-1 (one no-result) with the fast reawakening New Zealand
in the United Arab Emirates before Christmas, but had a serious rollercoaster
ride ahead of it: failure to make the final of the 2018 Asia Cup (where India
saw off Bangladesh), but a merciless 5-0 away clean-up of Zimbabwe … and 5-0
result the less desirable way around, from their perspective, against Sri Lanka
in the UAE.
exactly the types of outcomes that make you wonder, almost eternally, who the
“real” Pakistan are, despite them seldom being short of gifted, X-factor
a sobering thought for Proteas enthusiasts is that Pakistan currently sport
pretty impressive bragging rights in strictly bilateral terms between the two
for example, holders of the latest major multinational ICC tournament title,
the Champions Trophy of 2017 in England and Wales – along the way, they knocked
over the Proteas at Edgbaston by 19 runs in a Duckworth/Lewis-influenced
eclipsed South Africa at Auckland in a pool match at the last World Cup (2015),
and will begin the slug-out on Saturday in Port Elizabeth buoyed by the
knowledge that they won the last bilateral 50-overs series on our soil: 2-1 in
rollover by Pakistan in the offing on this tour?
just be prudent to revise that thought.
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