DURBAN: After slipping to a five-wicket loss in the first one-day international against Pakistan, South Africa will be desperate to draw level in Durban on Tuesday, 22 January, and prevent the deficit from becoming even steeper in the five-match series, reported ICC.
South Africa lost just two wickets in the series opener in Port Elizabeth, but still couldn’t breach the 300-run mark, ending the innings at 266/2. It was a target that Mohammad Hafeez, the Pakistan batsman, said his side were always confident of chasing, given it was “below par”.
South Africa’s top-order batsmen will want to up their scoring-rate in Durban, not just to give their bowlers something to defend, but also to gain a psychological advantage against Pakistan.
To do that, they will be reliant on the experienced duo of Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis, especially in the absence of the rested Quinton de Kock and the injured JP Duminy. The in-form Rassie van der Dussen, who scored a 101-ball 93 in the first ODI, will also hope to play a big role once again.
South Africa will also be buoyed by the performance of their bowlers, who pushed Pakistan to the final over in a relatively small chase. Duanne Olivier, the standout star from the Tests, returned two wickets in the first ODI, albeit for 73 runs. If he can hit the straps again, along with the likes of Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir, Pakistan will be troubled.
That said, the visitors will be delighted with their victory in Port Elizabeth. All of Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam and Hafeez came good with the bat, and they will hope for more of the same in Durban.
As for the bowlers, the visitors would have been happy to keep South Africa to a low score, but will hope for more end-product in the coming games. In the first ODI, they used seven different bowlers but could pick up just two wickets. A lot will depend on Hasan Ali and Shadab Khan – Pakistan’s only wicket-takers in Port Elizabeth.
Hashim Amla’s last three scores in international cricket are 108*, 41 and 71. In Port Elizabeth, he overtook Virat Kohli (169 innings) to become the fastest ODI batsman to 27 centuries (167 innings). He is the pivot around which the South Africa batting line-up operates, and his form comes at a good time for the home side.
Babar Azam, No.5 on ICC ODI Batting Rankings, has been in impressive form on this tour. He scored two half-centuries in the Test series before notching a 69-ball 49 in the first ODI.
The forecast suggests optimal playing conditions on match-day. Teams batting first have had more success at Kingsmead over the years. In the last ODI at Kingsmead, two spinners, India’s Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, claimed five scalps between them. It suggests the surface might have something in it for the slow bowlers.
HASAN ALI EYES SERIES WIN:
Speaking ahead of the second ODI in Durban on Tuesday, Hasan Ali said that the Pakistan team is in a good position to secure the series.
“This is a good opportunity for us to win the series and we are looking forward to the upcoming matches,” the Pakistan pacer said.
While sharing his thoughts on this, Ali was surprised over South Africa’s slow end to the innings.
“South Africa were in a good position up until the 40-over mark which is why it was surprising to see them no go for quick runs at the death,” he said. “Cricket has changed over the past few years and scores around 300 are more competitive.”
Ali was the pick of the bowlers for Pakistan with figures of 42-1, during the first ODI. His bowling exploits also included 30 dot balls — which was the most by any Pakistan bowler during the match.
While talking on Pakistan’s bowling, Ali stressed on the importance of bowling dot balls consistently.
“We are working on doing the basics right,” he said. “We focus on bowling a lot of dot balls and also discuss the same with our bowling coach and team management.”