Pakistan cricket team will look to put their previous losses behind them when they face a formidable South African side in Chennai on Friday. The Babar Azam-led side has displayed flashes of their best performance so far, with two victories out of five matches. However, they are yet to synchronise all facets of their game simultaneously. A defeat to South Africa will severely dent their chances with the likes of England and Sri Lanka showing signs of late revival in the competition.
Meanwhile, the South African cricket team has been one of the most impressive contenders after hosts India, with four wins and only one blemish on their record. The only setback for South Africa was a surprising loss to the Netherlands.
The likes of Quinton de Kock, Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller have all been in excellent form, making it challenging for opposition bowlers to contain them.
This presents a significant challenge for Pakistan’s fast bowlers, especially Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf, who will be pivotal in picking early wickets with the ball.
Openers: Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq
Abdullah Shafique, Pakistan’s opening batter, ranks among the top two run-scorers for his side. Despite missing the first match against the Netherlands, he has consistently performed well, registering a century and two half-centuries in the competition so far.
Abdullah Shafique has played a vital role in ensuring strong starts for Pakistan while setting a solid foundation for the middle order to build and achieve competitive totals. Over the past four matches, he has accumulated 255 runs at a strike rate of 96.95.
Imam-ul-Haq has effectively partnered with Abdullah Shafique at the top of the order. Their coordination was evident in a 131-run opening partnership against Australia. Imam-ul-Haq has contributed 150 runs in five matches so far at a strike rate of 92.59.
Middle order: Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, Saud Shakeel
Mohammad Rizwan has emerged as Pakistan’s leading run-scorer In the ongoing tournament. He has played a pivotal role in anchoring the middle order and has effectively built important partnerships with other batters. His highest individual score stands at 131 not out, achieved against Sri Lanka. Overall, Mohammad Rizwan has amassed 302 runs in five matches in the tournament.
Although short of runs, Babar will hold the key if Pakistan are to beat South Africa in this crucial fixture. A captain’s knock is expected from Babar Azam against the Proteas if the Men in Green are to make a comeback in the tournament.
Saud Shakeel has been providing a vital impetus lower down the batting order with crucial runs for Pakistan. His quick-fire 31 late in the innings played a pivotal role in Pakistan successfully chasing down Sri Lanka’s target of 344 in their second match. In the five matches he has played, the left-handed batsman has accumulated 160 runs at a commendable strike rate of 101.91.
All-rounders: Shadab Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed
Pakistan’s leg-spinner, Shadab Khan, has not set the World Cup on fire yet but will hope to find form in this vital fixture against the Proteas. The 25-year-old is also a valuable asset with the bat and will hold the key lower down the order.
Meanwhile, Iftikhar Ahmed is set to play a vital role for Pakistan in the upcoming match against South Africa. His off-breaks are expected to be a valuable asset given South Africa have a couple of left-handers in their arsenal. Iftikhar is also one of the ferocious hitters of the cricket ball and could hold the key if the Pakistan team finds itself chasing a huge target.
Bowlers: Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf
The responsibility of securing early wickets against South Africa will fall on Pakistan’s fast bowler, Shaheen Shah Afridi. Despite his impressive track record, the left-arm pacer is yet to showcase his full potential in the tournament. The upcoming match against the Proteas offers an ideal opportunity for him to establish himself and make a significant impact in the competition.
Hasan Ali has played a pivotal role in delivering early breakthroughs for Pakistan in the tournament, securing 8 wickets in 5 matches.
Pakistan will hope for wickets from Usama Mir in the middle overs. While the onus of bowling in the death overs will be on Haris Rauf.
Pakistan’s Predicted Playing XI vs South Africa:
Babar Azam (C)
Mohammad Rizwan (WK)
Shaheen Shah Afridi
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