Pakistan have yet again proven that they are a force to reckon with in limited-overs. They are the No. 1 team in T20Is and have been peering upwards in ODIs since their triumph in the 2017 Champions Trophy.
A win in the fifth and final match against South Africa will hand them their second ODI series win in the rainbow nation. However, the mighty South Africans have the knack of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
The last ODI played at Newlands, Cape Town was a year ago. Virat Kohli’s unbeaten 160 propelled India to a massive score of 303 for 6. In reply, South Africa could manage 179 in 40 overs.
A year before that, Faf du Plessis had blasted 185 against Sri Lanka.
To put things into perspective, the pitch has been batting-friendly for the past few years. Given the way batters from both teams have been playing, we might as well witness a high-scoring game.
No other batter but Imam-ul-Haq has scored a century in the series. It seems he likes batting on the fast and bouncy wickets of South Africa. His scores read 86, 5, 101, and 71.
From South Africa, it’s been Hashim Amla who has been scoring plenty of runs. He has a hundred and a fifty. All the same, he was on the losing side on both occasions.
Barring these two, only Mohammad Hafeez and Rassie van der Dussen have looked comfortable at the crease, bagging two half-centuries – one of which ended up being a match-winning knock.
Other batters have scored runs in bits and pieces. Babar Azam, du Plessis, and Reeza Hendricks have scored a fifty each but looked rusty otherwise, while David Miller, Fakhar Zaman, and Shoaib Malik have been unable to put up a good show.
Sarfraz Ahmed has been banned for five international matches for his racial comment earlier this series, meaning he won’t be available for the remainder of the tour. In his absence, Mohammad Rizwan scored an unbeaten 4 in the pursuit of 168 runs in the fourth ODI. He also took three catches.
After being rested for the first two ODIs, Quinton de Kock hasn’t been at his brutal best. That said, he performs when it matters the most. He will play a crucial role on Wednesday’s final contest.
Imad Wasim has taken a mere wicket in three matches. He was expensive in his first two matches but showed character in the fourth ODI, giving away 36 runs in 10 overs. However, in the only innings he got to bat, he smashed 43 off 23.
Andile Phehlukwayo has had a good series. He is the highest wicket-taker. Not to forget that he played an innings of substance – 68* off 80 – under pressure to help South Africa win the second ODI.
While Dwaine Pretorius played one match, Faheem Ashraf was dropped after the second ODI. Both failed to take a wicket.
Tabraiz Shamsi replaced Imran Tahir in the second ODI and took an impressive three-wicket haul. However, he leaked runs at 8.3 in the third match and was replaced by Tahir in the fourth match.
Kagiso Rabada, on the other hand, has gone wicketless in 2 matches. In fact, he looked lethal only in the second ODI, taking 2 for 35. His pace partner Dale Steyn took has not found his lost mojo. He has only 2 wickets in 2 matches. South Africa may fancy playing Duanne Olivier for the final contest. He has a wicket more than Steyn in as many matches.
Pakistan’s bowling has been a tad better. Pacers Shaheed Shah Afridi and Shadab Khan have 10 wickets between them, while Usman Shinwari took 4 for 35 in the previous ODI to keep Pakistan alive in the series. The spot of bother for Pakistan have been the forms of Hasan Ali and Mohammad Amir. Their wicket columns do not justify their talents.
Playing XI for South Africa: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), Reeza Hendricks/Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis (c), Rassie van de Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Beuran Hendricks, Imran Tahir/Tabraiz Shamsi
Playing XI for Pakistan: Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik (c), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir/Hasan Ali, Usman Shinwari, Shaheen Shah Afridi
Given the track produces runs by hundreds, I have opted for five batters and three bowlers. To play safe, all my wicket-takers are from Pakistan, so I do not miss out on bonus points.
Thanks to Hafeez and Phehlukwayo’s forms that I do not need to ponder over the list of all-rounders.
My XI: Quinton de Kock (wk), Imam-ul-Haq (c), Babar Azam, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen, Mohammad Hafeez, Andile Phehlukwayo, Usman Khan, Shadab Khan (vc), Shaheen Shah Afridi