With South African cricketing summer coming towards an end we couldn’t have wished for a better finale. Pakistan after their most dominant performance of the tour on Wednesday will be looking to seal the series while young South Africa know they have their work cut out to level it.
Babar Azam’s scores at the Centurion read: 104, 94 and 122. Every time the Pakistan skipper has walked out to bat at the venue, he has left his mark and more importantly taken his team to victory. The first two knocks came in the One-Day International (ODI) series and the last was in the previous T20I where he recorded the best score by a Pakistan batsman.
The pitch at Super Sports Park is generally conducive for batting. The ball comes nicely onto the bat and the bounce remains true which invariably suits Azam’s game. He is known for his backfoot punch and the surface at Highveld allows him to stroke them on the rise. No amount of fielders have managed to stop him from finding the gaps and the bowlers have struggled to keep him quiet. South Africa’s first aim would be to remove Azam cheaply to have a chance of leveling the series.
Mohammad Rizwan has been in the form of his life. The wicketkeeper-batsman has scored a hundred and three fifties in six innings against them this year. And it was his record 197-run opening partnership with Azam that took the previous game away from the home side. If they manage to get these two cheaply and expose the untested middle order, it could make an even contest.
The batsmen have been scoring runs for the home team. On two occasions they have scored big totals while chasing one down comfortably in the second T20I. Aiden Markram has grabbed his opportunity with both hands and has made three half-centuries in as many games. Malan has also looked impressive. Skipper Herich Klassen has also been in the runs while Rassie Van Der Dussen showed glimpses of what he can do.
The bowling has been a major worry. The inexperienced attack has been found wanting when the pressure is on. In the first T20 they had Pakistan in trouble but some poor bowling in the death allowed Pakistan to come away with the win. The Proteas do have the services of Tabraiz Shamsi, the number one ranked T20 bowler and has troubled Pakistan during the course of this tour. The management will be looking towards him to once again spin his magic.
Thus far, South Africa have not tinkered with their bowling attack and it is likely we might see some new faces.
Apart from the second T20I the bowlers have struggled for both teams. It will thus be a case of the more disciplined team with the ball walking away with the game as the two sides are evenly matched in the batting department.
Possible Playing XI
Pakistan: 1 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 2 Babar Azam (capt), 3 Fakhar Zaman, 4 Mohammad Hafeez, 5 Haider Ali, 6 Asif Ali, 7 Mohammad Nawaz, 8 Faheem Ashraf, 9 Hasan Ali, 10 Shaheen Shah Afridi, 11 Haris Rauf
South Africa: 1 Aiden Markram, 2 Janneman Malan, 3 Rassie van der Dussen, 4 Pite van Biljon, 5 Heinrich Klaasen (wk), 6 George Linde, 7 Andile Phehlukwayo, 8 Sisanda Magala, 9 Beuran Hendricks/Lutho Sipamla, 10 Lizaad Williams, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi