1st T20 Preview: Both sides even in new format
by Asher Wilson
DateLine: 1st March 2013
South Africa v Pakistan
1st T20 2013
The Proteas are the undisputed champions in the test arena, but now enter a format in which they have been notoriously indifferent when they face more dominant in this category Pakistani side in 1st T20 of 3 matches series starting from tomorrow.
Inconsistency and poor game-planning has seen up-and-down results in T20 internationals over recent years, culminating in a disappointing exit from the T20 World Cup. Pakistan made the semi-finals of that competition, losing out to Sri Lanka, and sit sixth in the ICC rankings, one spot and ranking point below the Proteas. However, it seems to me that Pakistan have been the more consistent side of late and have also been a source of South African misery in the competition between the world’s best. This one is going to be tough to call.
Division of labour seems to be the mantra of leadership in the Proteas camp, with Faf Du Plessis appointed the latest T20 captain. AB de Villiers opted to stand down as captain in order to manage his workload and concentrate on the ODI captaincy. As much as we can foresee issues when splitting the captaincy so, I would say the positives outweigh the negatives in this case. Faf has been earmarked for leadership and the best way to grow into the position is in the T20 form of the game. He’s dynamic in this format but has struggled a bit at international level. This may give him some incentive to take charge of the middle-order.
Richard Levi is still omitted after losing his place due to poor performance, but has come into some form at domestic level. Those players who have been involved in T20 cricket directly prior to the series, are already going through the training processes and are in good nick. T20 contests are largely won from extraordinary individual performances, so why not pack your side with in-form specialists? Luckily, South Africa’s T20 side is beginning to look quite exciting and men like Henry Davids, Quinton de Kock and David Miller may be able to put pay to the Proteas' tendency to start the innings too slow. Kyle Abbott also makes an appearance, in for the injured Morne Morkel.
Pakistan's complete unpredictability makes them extremely dangerous in this format. Captain Mohammad Hafeez has recently taken a drop from the opening batsman role with the promotion of Ahmed Shehzad, who partners Nasir Jamshed at the top of the order. Hafeez was in prolific form in India but since arriving in South Africa has struggled on the lively wickets. Akmal brothers Umar and Kamran are likely to provide the firepower in the middle-order with the talismanic Shahid Afridi proving a veritable enigma lower down. Umar Gul also has the capability to launch in the final overs and was pivotal in ending South Africa’s World T20 hopes. Saeed Ajmal will again be lurking to trouble and strangle the South African innings and Pakistan also have a few useful seamers to consider, including the mammoth Mohammad Irfan. South Africa will not find this as simple as they did the test series.
Kingsmead plays host to the first T20, after being rudely excluded from the test match schedule. The dew factor is always important in Durban and may play a part here. South Africa have never won a T20 international at this ground, while Pakistan have won one, against Scotland. The weather doesn’t look great with a 60% chance of rain, but lets keep the fingures crossed for a thrashing game on our hands.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (c), Kyle Abbott, Farhaan Behardien, Henry Davids, Quinton de Kock (wk), AB de Villiers, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Chris Morris, Justin Ontong, Robin Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez (captain), Nasir Jamshed, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Ahmed Shahzad, Umar Amin, Zulfiqar Babar, Asad Ali, Junaid Khan.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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