Friday, March 6, 2015

Pakistan Look to Bring their World Cup Campaign back on Track against South Africa

Pakistan vs South Africa, Eden park in Auckland on 7th March 2015 - Match Preview

Pakistan will take on South Africa in this all important Pool B clash at Auckland in New Zealand. Pakistan lost their opening game to arch rivals India and they have also lost to the West Indies. South Africa were also defeated by India but they have trashed West Indies and Ireland. Both the teams have defeated Zimbabwe as well.

Pakistan batting has been the most shaky and nervous in this World Cup. They are getting off to slow starts and the batting just lacks the confidence to attack at this moment. But their batsmen found some much needed form against the UAE in the last game as Ahmed Shehzad, Haris Sohail and Sohaib Maqsood all got important runs. Misbah has been the standout performer for them with the bat and he will have to shoulder the majority of the responsibility again against a strong South African attack.

Ahmed Shehzad and Haris Sohail batted extremely well against the UAE 
but can they handle the Protea Fire?

Pakistan were given some injury scares to the 7 feet giant Mohammad Irfan and Sohail Khan in their last game against UAE. If these two miss out then there is not much to write home about except Wahab Riaz as they are already missing the services of Junaid, Ajmal and Gul. They might decide to play Yasir Shah against South Africa as the Proteas are known to be a little weak against spin bowling although Amla and De Villiers will have something to say against that statement. Afridi will also hold the key in bowling with his quickish leg breaks.

The South African batting looks scary on paper with Amla and De Villiers both in form. They have Faf Du Plessis and Rossouw both of whom have hit some pretty decent half centuries of their own. The form of De Kock is a worry at the top of the order but the South Africans have no reason to tinker with their batting line up. It remains to be seen if JP Duminy is fit to take his place in the middle order with the big hitting David Miller.

The South Africans have a top pace attack which is second to none. Vernon Philander got injured but Kyle Abbot, the man who replaced him has taken wickets in both the games that he has played and has made a strong case for himself even if Philander is available. Steyn has been a bit off the boil but he has been there before and he can single handedly rip apart batting sides. Morne Morkel has been consistent and among wickets. Imran Tahir has also bowled very well and is among the leading spinners in this World Cup!

Key Battles: Pakistan vs South Africa

Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel vs Ahmed Shehzad and Haris Sohail

Imran Tahir vs Misbah Uk Haq

Shahid Afridi and Yasir Shah vs Hashim Amla and AB De Villiers

This match will be very important for Pakistan as a loss here will put a serious question mark over their qualification in the Quarter Finals. They have a game against the Irish still to come and the memories of the 2007 game might come to haunt them again.

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

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