The second Group B match in the ICC Champions Trophy between Pakistan and South Africa is a do-or-die encounter for both teams. Both sides come into this match after having lost their respective opening games in quite a disappointing fashion. However where South Africa did show some resistance while playing against India, Pakistan on the other hand weren’t able to mount a serious challenge to their West Indian opponents.
The biggest problematic area for Pakistan has been their batting. Against the West Indies, their entire batting order with the exception of skipper Misbah ul-Haq and Nasir Jamshed, to a certain extent, collapsed without offering any substantial contribution. Pakistan cannot afford to have such a languishing of its batting department versus the South Africans today. Players like Imran Farhat, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal, Asad Shafiq, Mohammed Hafeez need to get their bearings right before it’s too late for their team.
In their previous match against West Indies, the lack of runs on the scoreboard made it difficult for their bowlers to try and get the job done. Though Mohammed Irfan, Wahab Riaz and Saeed Ajmal did almost the see team through, a few odd runs in the Pakistani kitty would have made it a difficult target for the West Indians to chase. Their fielding was quite good, though, the shortage of runs made even that aspect a bit tedious at times.
Pakistan defeated South Africa in the warm-up match, and they would definitely go into this game with an advantage over the Proteas; psychologically at least. However captain Misbah would need to eliminate all possibilities of complacency and take into account South Africa’s overall lead in the head-to-head against them. It will also be important for the Pakistani skipper to consider the ramifications of the NRR (Net Run Rate) that could further affect their chances in the Champions Trophy.
Presently, South Africa have a better NRR as compared to Pakistan on account of their brilliant fight-back against India. Pakistan thus needs a comprehensive win in this match so as to better their NRR. This would ensure that they still have a chance to make to the penultimate stages of the tournament.
Key Players for Pakistan: Misbah ul-Haq, Mohammed Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Nasir Jamshed, Mohammed Irfan, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan and Wahab Riaz.
Pitch Factor: The pitch conditions at Edgbaston are expected to favour the team that bats first, considering that the pitch will make chasing difficult as it wears more as the match progresses. England exploited these conditions perfectly in their Group A match against Australia, held a few days ago. And with weather conditions expected to be partially cloudy, the team winning the toss would do better to elect to bat and then effectively curtail the opponent’s run-chase.
Prediction: South Africa defeat Pakistan in an all-round slug-fest