South Africa entered the series with a focus on finding the right combinations to lift them from a worrisome period in limited-overs cricket and produced a comprehensive performance in Bloemfontein to crush Pakistan by 125 runs. They will not look to emulate that performance and further test the durability of less experienced players with the aim of going 2-0 up over the opposition in the second ODI at Centurion on Friday.
On Sunday, Pakistan’s bowlers conceded too many runs and the batsmen failed to cope with a pace bowling attack missing Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, with 198 ODI wickets between them. The biggest success of that win were batsman Colin Ingram, with his third ODI century; allrounder Farhaan Behardien with a 14-ball 34; and the seven wickets shared by Rory Kleinveldt and Ryan McLaren. Kleinveldt took 4 for 22 and McLaren 3 for 19 to bowl Pakistan out for 190 in 36.2 overs.
Extracting further success from these four players is key to South Africa gauging where they are ahead of this summer’s ICC Champions Trophy. The hosts are a far from settled unit and thus the strong showing of Ingram and Behardien was significant, because South Africa’s middle order has often been found too soft. With captain AB de Villiers taking over the role of permanent wicketkeeper and batting at No. 3, the need for runs from the middle order is massive. Dismissing the South African openers and de Villiers is where Pakistan can look to test the home team.
For that, though, they will need to be sharper than they were at Centurion. Junaid Khan and Umar Gul both went in excess of 6.50 and managed one wicket between them, while Shahid Afridi’s return to ODI cricket saw him concede 60 runs in eight overs. The offspin of Mohammad Hafeez and Saeed Ajmal produced 101 runs in 20 overs for a tally of three wickets, and it looks as if the pair will again have a role to play. Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Irfan, both left-arm quicks, could be considered at the expense of either Junaid or Gul.
With only two batsmen getting into the thirties in the first ODI, Pakistan’s fragile batting will again be put to test. The key, not surprisingly, will be how Pakistan’s batting copes with South Africa’s fast bowlers who have been vital in ensuring the home team’s superiority over Pakistan in the Tests and at Centurion. Asad Shafiq made just 5 in the series opener and could be replaced in the middle order by Umar Akmal.
South Africa: 1 Graeme Smith 2 Hashim Amla 3 AB de Villiers (capt/wk), 4 Colin Ingram, 5 Faf du Plessis, 6 Farhaan Behardien, 7 Ryan McLaren 8 Robin Peterson 9 Rory Kleinveldt, 10 Kyle Abbott, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe
Pakistan: 1 Nasir Jamshed, 2 Mohammed Hafeez, 3 Younis Khan, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 5 Umar Akmal, 6 Shoaib Malik, 7 Kamran Akmal (wk), 8 Shahid Afridi, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Saeed Ajma, 11 Junaid Khan/Mohammed Irfan/Wahab RiazComments: