An exciting battle between bowling units awaits as Pakistan take on South Africa
Pakistan (L) and South Africa (R) will face each other at the Bay Oval © Getty Images
After an extended pandemic break that halted international cricket for 10 months, Pakistan and South Africa were the first teams to resume the cricketing action. Pakistan toured South Africa in January 2021 to play three ODIs. South Africa batted first in all three ODIs and Pakistan fell short on every occasion. A lot has changed since then and the focus will be shifted to the larger picture when these teams will face each other at the Bay Oval in Tauranga on March 11.
What's at Stake
Even though South Africa won against Bangladesh in their opening match, it was not a convincing one. Batting first, South Africa were bowled out for 207, with Marizanne Kapp being the top run-scorer. Apart from the partnership of 71 runs between Kapp and Tryon, the South African unit looked tentative against the team playing their first-ever ODI World Cup. Lara Goodall has not produced a confidence-boosting innings since her half-century against India in March 2021.
Goodall’s under-par performance might force South Africa to change the playing XI. Lizelle Lee, who was not available for the match against Bangladesh will be available for selection. It will definitely increase the strength of the team. Kapp and Tryon’s partnership was a saving grace of the innings against Bangladesh, but coach Hilton Moreeng would want the other batters to take up more responsibility against Pakistan.
Ayabonga Khaka led the bowling unit in the chase against Bangladesh, but South Africa’s much-fancied opening bowlers were not able to give their team a breakthrough. Sune Luus rotated her bowlers well once Khaka provided them with the breakthrough, but Bangladesh were able to take the match deep. South Africa’s experience in the big tournaments helped them in the opening match. South Africa have a quality bowling unit, and they will hope to do well against Pakistan.
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Pakistan have lost six of their last eight matches since November 2021. Their two victories came against Thailand and Zimbabwe in the World Cup Qualifier. Their bowling unit has stood up on many occasions in the past. For example, bowling West Indies out for 153 in Karachi or restricting India in the middle overs in Tauranga. Pakistan lost their way against India once Pooja Vastrakar and Sneh Rana started the counter-attack.
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Pakistan’s real worry is their batting unit. Despite a partnership of 99 runs between captain Bismah Maroof and Aliya Riaz, Pakistan could only score 190 runs against Australia. The batting looked much improved against Australia than it was against India, where the team was bowled out for 137. Pakistan have also used as many as five opening pairs since 2020, which has been one of their major headaches.
ICC's ODI Cricketer of the Year missed South Africa's opening match due to extended Managed Quarantine and Isolation (MIQ). Since the beginning of 2021, Lee has scored 632 runs from 11 innings at an average of 90.28 with six 50+ scores. Lee can give South Africa a quick start, reducing the pressure from the middle order. After missing out in the series against West Indies, prior to the World Cup, South Africa would like Lee to score big on her return.
Dar was the pick of the bowlers against India in the middle overs. She was able to squeeze the scoring rate and take the crucial wickets of Harmanpreet Kaur and Richa Ghosh as well. She showed glimpses of her bowling brilliance against Australia, but it was not enough as the experienced Australian batting did well against her. Batting at five, Dar is one of the most experienced batters for Pakistan. She hasn't fired with the bat with scores of 4 and 5 so far in the tournament, but expect her to deliver soon for Pakistan.
What they said
"It was definitely under par. We did discuss thoroughly, that we weren't happy with our batting performance. Yeah, we didn't take responsibility for the order and we felt that we just needed the partnerships, and we didn't do that enough. And, yeah, we just had to find ways to get off strike and I felt that we struggled with that quite a bit."
South Africa's vice-captain, Chloe Tryon, on the below-par batting performance against Bangladesh
"In terms of the combination at the top - unfortunately, we found ourselves in certain situations where we have tried several players, we've got players that are improving their games, but in terms of actually cementing a spot- we've come up with various combinations at the moment, we still have to look at those combinations. So, unfortunately, some of those players, have experience, one or two are learning the game."
Pakistan coach, David Hemp, on Pakistan using multiple openers
Predicted playing XI:
South Africa: Lizelle Lee, Tazmin Brits, Laura Wolvaardt, Sune Luus (C), Mignon du Preez, Marizanne Kapp, Chloe Tryon, Trisha Chetty (WK), Shabnim Ismail, Masabata Klaas, Ayabonga Khaha
Pakistan: Sidra Ameen, Nahida Khan, Bismah Maroof (C), Omaima Sohail, Nida Dar, Aliya Riaz, Fatima Sana, Diana Baig, Sidara Nawaz (WK), Nashra Sandhu, Anam Amin