South Africa scripted a great comeback on Saturday night to stay alive in the series. They have never lost a T20I series in Asia and will be hoping to keep this record intact. On the other hand, Babar Azam and team management have their task cut out and will certainly be under pressure going into the series decider. Apart from winning against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in 2020, they haven’t won any T20I series since Misbah-ul-Haq took over the reigns.
Pakistan has a lot of issues to address both with the bat and ball. Apart from Rizwan who has been in trailblazing form with the bat and a 12 ball 30 from Faheem Ashraf in the second T20 game, there hasn’t been much from the batsmen at all. Babar Azam has failed miserably and there have been a lot of questions marks on his captaincy as well. He seems to lose the plot in crunch situations. Even though 145 was a small total to defend but it was wrong bowling changes that made South Africa cruise to victory.
Although Pakistan lacked intensity and it was a below-par performance from them but take nothing away from the Proteas who came out with specific plans and executed them to perfection to level the series. First, with the ball, they utilised the conditions brilliantly by keeping the pace off the ball and asking Pakistani batters to generate the pace. Dwayne Pretorious inflicted most of the damage and ended with figures of 5 for 17, best against Pakistan in this format. It was also the first fifer in Gaddafi Stadium Lahore.
With the bat, they showed intent. Unlike in the first game where they let the spinners get a hold of them and took attack to both Usman Qadir and Muhamamd Nawaz and dispatched them for sixes in their first overs. Pakistan were rattled after this onslaught and was playing catchup most of the time.
The home team certainly has to make some changes. The lower middle-order hasn’t fired at all. Asif Ali who has been in good hitting form in the recently concluded domestic one day cup might get a chance in place of Hussain Talat or Khushdil Shah. Hasan Ali or Muhammad Hasnain might replace Haris Rauf who has been expensive in both games. Though thinking out of the box has never been Misbah’s cup of tea but going with Zahid Mehmood in place of Muhammad Nawaz will also be a great move as South African batsmen have found it difficult to cope with leg-spin.
South Africa will probably look to carry on the momentum and will keep the winning combination for the third and final game. They will be looking at their opener Reeza Hendricks, who has provided good starts in both games and Van Bijlon who scored a hard hitting 42 and looked unfazed on the night. In bowling, Dwayne Pretorious and Tabraiz Shamsi will hold the key for the visitors.
1. Babar Azam (capt) 2. Mohammad Rizwan (wk) 3. Haider Ali 4. Khushdil Shah 5. Asif Ali/Hussain Talat 6. Faheem Ashraf 7. Iftikhar Ahmed 8. Mohammad Nawaz/Zahid Mehmood 9. Shaheen Afridi 10. Haris Rauf/Hasan Ali 11. Usman Qadir
1. Janneman Malan 2. Reeza Hendricks 3. Van Biljon 4. David Miller 5. Heinrich Klaasen (capt &wk) 6. Andile Phehlukwayo 7. Dwaine Pretorius 8. Jon Jon Smuts 9. Lutho Sipamla 10. Tabraiz Shamsi 11. Glenton Stuurman