Pakistani cricket is filled with possibilities. Possibilities of joy, excitement, heartbreak, anger, as if it was a drama. In fact, watching Pakistan play at times does feel like watching a drama. Within the last year, Pakistan went from defeating England as Lord’s to losing by a massive innings and 55 runs, from winning a T20I tri-series against Australia and Zimbabwe to losing seven wickets for 40 runs against New Zealand, from beating Australia in a test series to losing to Bangladesh in the Asia Cup.
Going into the New Year’s, one resolution would’ve been to patch up the test team’s batting, but that didn’t work out as Pakistan were whitewashed 3-0 by South Africa. The ODI team can be just as unpredictable, but more likely a force to reckon with. Going into a five-match ODI series, Pakistan will not only want to perform well against South Africa to get revenge, but it’s also World Cup year.
Pakistan will still be more comfortable in the limited-overs game than the test one, thanks to the strong bowling line. Fast bowlers like the successful Shaheen Afridi and Usman Shinwari (who his coming from the Big Bash after picking up eight wickets in seven matches) will give Pakistan a good shot at winning. The batting line will also be boosted by the inclusion of veterans Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik and by Shan Masood, who is in fine form, scoring 228 runs in six innings. In the spin department, Imad Wasim has been included as he’s an excellent option with the new ball along with Shadab Khan.
Whilst Quinton de Kock and Dale Steyn have been rested for South Africa (much to the relief of Mohammad Hafeez, who’s been dismissed by Steyn 15 times!), South Africa have called up un-capped Rassie van der Dussen and wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamshi to partner 39-year old Imran Tahir. Dussen is an excellent limited-overs player who recently has scored 469 runs with a strike rate of 138.75 in the Mzansi Super League.
Although South Africa may be favorites being at home, Pakistan’s attack looks formidable and the batting line is more capable that that of the test team’s. It’s bound to be an interesting series to watch, if Pakistan show up and perform. Both sides need to take ODI cricket seriously now as the World Cup is just over four months away.
The first of five ODIs start Saturday on 13:00 (1 PM) SAST, 16:00 (4 PM) PKT or 6:00 AM EDT and will be held at St. George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.