Unbeaten South Africa will take on Pakistan in a decisive 2022 T20 World Cup game in Sydney today.
The game is scheduled to get underway at 1.30pm Sri Lanka time.
Pakistan cannot afford another slip-up as they take on the only unbeaten team in the tournament, South Africa, at the Sydney Cricket Ground today.
It’s a must-win game for Pakistan and they have a potent, in-form South African attack, fresh off devouring India, to conquer.
Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, the two pillars of their batting line-up, have struggled sums up Pakistan’s woes this tournament. If the loss to India was a bitter pill to swallow, following that was a nail-biting finish against Zimbabwe, where they ended up on the wrong side.
A convincing win against Netherlands, their first in Australia in this format, gave them a bit of a relief.
Two narrow losses to kick start the campaign isn’t exactly how Pakistan would have planned for their tournament to go, and it has left them needing to win their big game against South Africa and hoping other results go their way.
But South Africa could pose big headaches to this Pakistan team.
They are the only unbeaten team in this T20 World Cup, and more importantly, they have shown strengths in different departments to possibly go all the way this time around.
For one, the Proteas batting line-up is a never-ending string of pace hitters, who don’t just counter pace, but smash it.
The South African middle order is arguably the best in this tournament and it has stepped up more than once already in this short event.
However, Pakistan would hope to use the spin duo of Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan to stifle South Africa’s charge in the middle overs, especially if the SCG offers turn, which is likely given the ground’s history.
Pakistan’s reliance on high pace could well backfire against South Africa.
On top of that, the Proteas can dish them out at equally good pace with the ball. Anrich Nortje has been pushing the speed gun consistently.
Lungi Ngidi comes off the back of a Player of the Match showing against India and Wayne Parnell was equally effective that game. Kagiso Rabada hasn’t even hit his best yet but South Africa are already on a roll.
That speaks volumes about the mountain of work that awaits Pakistan. Their best bet would be to dent South Africa early, which could force the middle order to delay their attack, like against India.
While they were bailed out by Aiden Markram and David Miller that game, Pakistan will know it’s probably South Africa’s weak spot this tournament.
The absence of Dwaine Pretorius, who was injured and ruled out pre-tournament, has made their tail a bit longer than they would like even if Parnell is more than a decent all-rounder to have.
For Pakistan, the template remains pretty much the same with the bat. Babar and Rizwan need to ward off South Africa’s quicks with the new ball to give them a shot at a decent score.
Predicted Playing XI
Pakistan: Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam (capt), Mohammad Haris, Shan Masood, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah
South Africa: Quinton de Kock, Temba Bavuma (capt), Rilee Rossouw, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Tristan Stubbs, Wayne Parnell, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi