1st T20: Pakistan vs South Africa Live Streaming, Pak vs SA 2013
After Pakistan’s demoralising loss in the Tests, the game returns to a format Pakistan seem most comfortable in. The shortest version of the game will give Pakistan the element to surprise South Africa and change the odds in their favour. Click here for Live Score
With the return of some old heads and some new faces, the Pakistani team has a good balance of youth and experience. Right-arm fast bowler Asad Ali and left-arm orthodox Zulfiqar Babar have been on the fringes of their debut while Umar Amin has been waiting in line. With only a two-match series, all of them may return from their second consecutive tour without having played a single game.
Seasoned campaigners in Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal also return to the fold. While Malik and Kamran have shown form in the domestic circuit, Afridi has been picked on sheer reputation and past glories. Chief selector Iqbal Qasim has given the super star a last chance to prove his mettle. In Pakistan, though, words and chances come cheap. Senior cricketers and Pakistani politicians always manage to stage multiple comebacks, often as captains or heads of state.
Apart from personal performance and tactical skills during play, how T20 captain Mohammad Hafeez manages these senior players will be determe his longevity of his tenure. In the power circus of Pakistani cricket, nothing is inconceivable and surely nobody can be taken for granted.
Following England’s strategy, the Proteas now have three different captains for each format. Faf du Plessis has been handed the reins of the T20 team after showing potential during the series against New Zealand. AB de Villiers relinquishing the role of skipper came as a surprise to many but AB himself has shown reservation towards T20 cricket. “It’s difficult to find our way. We’re going to play a couple in this series, then three, four months down the line we’ll play another one, maybe two. It was difficult for me, especially when I was captain,” he said in an interview on the eve of the first T20 against Pakistan. According to some reports, he may open the innings in the match.
Cricket South Africa carefully manages workload of its greatest assets and prioritises longer forms of the game. Take big names like Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn out of the equation along with the injured Morne Morkel and the mighty Proteas don’t seem that invincible anymore.
However, even a relatively inexperienced South African side is a good one, as they showed their effectiveness by recently triumphing over the Kiwis. In fact, they are placed as favourites this weekend, to win in home conditions that will assist their style of play.
Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul and Shahid Afridi are the top three wicket-takers in all T20 internationals with Ajmal currently ranked as the number one bowler and Mohammad Hafeez as the number two all-rounder in the world. In stark contrast the highest ranked South African bowler in the current squad is Robin Peterson placed 30th while their number one batsmen Henry Davids has played only three international matches.
In a man-to-man combat, Pakistan should come up trumps but these numbers can easily be dampened by form and momentum in a tough setting.
South Africa is positioned down at number five in the T20 rankings, only one point ahead of Pakistan. If Pakistan can muster up a series win, they will jump up to third position and South Africa will drop to six.