About the Match
Pakistan and South Africa had two completely different sorts of starts to their respective Champions Trophy campaigns. Whereas South Africa won comfortably against a struggling Sri Lanka, Pakistan, on the other hand, were beaten comprehensively by, not at their absolute best, India. This means that Pakistan now faces a must-win encounter against the South Africans in the seventh match of the tournament which will be played at Birmingham on 7th June.
Pakistan has had a really poor last couple of years in ODI cricket. They are the eighth-ranked ODI team in the world currently, behind Bangladesh, and this perfectly highlights how much the Pakistan team has fallen behind in ODI cricket with respect to all the other major teams.
This lack of awareness to the modern game was highlighted in their first encounter against India as well, where they gave away a huge total through some hopeless fielding and wayward bowling, and then could never get going in the chase. The bowlers who did well for them were not fit enough to sustain a full ODI innings and the batsmen who scored some runs were too slow while scoring them. Such performances are surely not going to win them many games in this tournament.
Issues had started to crop up for Pakistan even without having played even a single game though, when one of their main batsmen, Umar Akmal, was sent back to Pakistan after failing a fitness test in England. This sort of unprofessionalism is not becoming of an international cricket team in this day and age.
Pakistan’s captain, Sarfraz Ahmed, could not get going in the first game, but he will have to play an important role not just with the bat, but also as a leader to bring together this team in these times of difficulty and to bring out the best out of each and every member of this squad.
Pakistan is a very unpredictable, flamboyant and aggressive side, and predicting their performances can be very tricky. But the kind of form they have been in recently, it does not look likely that they will be able to beat a far superior ODI unit like South Africa.
South Africa entered the Champions Trophy as the number one ranked ODI team in the world. They entered the tournament with high expectations and were able to meet all those with a clinical performance against Sri Lanka to start their Champions Trophy campaign on a winning note.
South Africa has been in great ODI form of late, and they continued this great run against Sri Lanka. Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis did the bulk of the scoring and they were ably supported by the others. Then the bowlers took charge and never let Sri Lanka in the game. Imran Tahir was sensational with his wrist spin and Chris Morris was also pretty good.
The conditions in England suit South Africa’s pace dominant bowling attack as well as their batsmen who like batting on bouncy surfaces. South Africa has announced a very well balanced squad for this tournament. AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla are all in great nick and Imran Tahir has been bowling very well. Quinton de Kock and Morne Morkel are coming back from injuries, but both did well in the practice games and both look set to have some major impact on this game.
South Africa is a well-balanced team and is in great form right now and this game presents the perfect opportunity for them to virtually seam a semi-final berth with a win. They will just want to focus on playing some good aggressive cricket and not letting expectations hinder their thinking too much.
Both Pakistan and South Africa have a decent overall record at ICC events. However, the South African squad appears to be more settled on paper and they have also been in great ODI form recently, whereas Pakistan has had a patchy record of late. In addition to this, the conditions will also suit South Africa better than Pakistan, and all these factors give them an upper hand in this contest.