–Pakistan hope to become first Asian side to win second consecutive series in South Africa
With the series level at 2-2, the decider in Cape Town on Wednesday, January 29, gives Pakistan and South Africa the opportunity to close out the series and build confidence ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, reported ICC.
Both teams have their issues to iron out, chiefly with the batting. They’ve been good in patches, but consistency has eluded them. In the last game South Africa were bowled out for a paltry 164.
With the series against on the line, South Africa have added 20-year-old all-rounder Wiaan Mulder to their squad for the final match in Cape Town.
Mulder has played seven ODIs to date, but hasn’t really sparkled yet. In seven matches, he has scored just 57 runs at an average of 14.25 and picked up seven wickets at 36.42. He prominently featured in the ODI series in Sri Lanka, but was unable to have much of an impact, particularly with the bat. He will look to grab this opportunity.
But he has been in good form in domestic cricket, most recently scoring a fine 146 in a first-class game for Highveld Lions against the Knights. His inclusion might help add depth to the batting line-up while also doubling up as a reliable bowling option. But more of the batsmen need to stand up and contribute.
Fortunately for South Africa, the two seniors in Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis showed some form in the previous game making fifties. They will want to inspire the others to follow in their footsteps. Other established players like Quinton de Kock, who was out for a duck in the fourth game, will want to step up in the deciding match too.
Pakistan were good with the bat in the last game, but there remains room for improvement in overall consistency. Their batsmen have looked more solid on the whole. Imam-ul-Haq, in particular, has scored a lot of runs and led his side’s chase in the previous game with a solid 71. In all, he has scored 263 runs for the series at 65.75.
The bowlers on both sides have been excellent. Pakistan’s Usman Shinwari claimed 4/35 in the previous game, while Shaheen Afridi and Shadab Khan claimed two apiece. South Africa’s quicks too bowled well, but simply didn’t have a score to play with.
Du Plessis scored a gritty 57 in the last game and the captain needs to continue leading from the front. South Africa’s middle order has been frail in the series and batting at No.4, du Plessis needs to hold things together and set an example to the more inexperienced players.
Shaheen Afridi, the young paceman, has been Pakistan’s most impressive quick in the series and has troubled South Africa with pace and bounce. Pakistan will want to ensure that the hosts’ batsmen are kept in check and Afridi will play a vital role towards that end.