November 22 2013 at 08:21am By Zaahier Adams
Cape Town – Familiarity breeds success. That seems to be the case with the Proteas in their seemingly never-ending battles with Pakistan.
South Africa have won six matches on the trot – across the two limited-overs formats – and have the opportunity to make it seven in a row at Newlands on Friday in the second and final T20 of this hastily-arranged series.
All factors point to Faf du Plessis’ team doing just that, despite the Proteas “getting away with murder”, according to JP Duminy, in the first T20 on Wednesday evening when the rain washed away the game, handing South Africa a four-run victory courtesy of the Duckworth/Lewis method at the Wanderers.
“We have played Pakistan a few times, haven’t we?” quipped Duminy at Newlands on Thursday. “Yes, you want to spread your wings and test yourself against different opposition. But every time you play for your country, you are proud to wear the green and gold and we discuss it in team meetings that it is a privilege.
“We also want to improve as a team all the time. We were a bit below-par at the Wanderers after losing our way following a good start. We’re very process-driven as a team at the moment, and concentrating on doing well.”
Du Plessis’s XI simply portray far greater self-confidence than the visitors at the moment. The batting unit is making steady progress, with young opener Quinton de Kock vindicating the faith that has been placed in him.
De Kock was in imperious form at the Bullring, smashing 43 off just 33 balls to provide the early innings momentum the Proteas have craved for in the opening six powerplay overs.
Hashim Amla is also settling into the hurly-burly nature of T20 cricket after his year-long sabbatical from the shortest form of the game, with South Africa so confident in his abilities that they have released Henry Davids to his franchise ahead of Friday night’s encounter.
A decision is yet to be made whether one-day captain AB de Villiers will be back for Friday’s game after being rested at the Wanderers, which could open the way for Davids’ Titans teammate, David Wiese, to get a run after carrying the refreshments in the United Arab Emirates and in Johannesburg.
Unlike South Africa, Pakistan are fairly thin on the ground in terms of personnel options. They lost the experience of Shoaib Malik and Abdul Razzaq prior to this series, while their premier strike-bowler, Mohammed Irfan, was also laid low in Dubai. These setbacks have severely dented their chances to level the series at Newlands.
However, writing off any Pakistan team, especially in T20 cricket is a risky business when they still possess the match-winning talents of Shahid Afridi and the heir to his throne, Sohaib Maqsood. And should they tie the Proteas middle-order into knots, Du Plessis could head to the altaron Saturday morning a very disappointed man.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (capt), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, David Wiese, Imran Tahir, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Morné Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez (capt), Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal, Umar Amin, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Malik, Sohaib Maqsood, Sohail Tanveer, Anwar Ali, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Nasir Jamshed, Asad Shafiq, Bilawal Bhatti.