Who: Pakistan vs South Africa
When: Friday, October 27, 2pm (08:30 GMT)
Where: MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai, India
Underperforming Pakistan believe “miracles can happen” as the former champions enter a “do-or-die” battle to rescue their faltering ICC Cricket World Cup campaign, according to all-rounder Shadab Khan.
After starting brightly with wins over the Netherlands and Sri Lanka, the 1992 champions have been well beaten by India and Australia before being humiliated by neighbours Afghanistan.
On Friday, they face another test of their resources against free-scoring South Africa who have four wins in five games and have shrugged off their shock loss to the Netherlands.
“We have underperformed in all three departments,” Shadab told reporters on Thursday.
“We have not played good cricket, but have bounced back from such situations.”
With four group games to play, Pakistan can still make the semifinals, but there is little margin for error.
However, as well as victory on Friday, they also need to improve their -0.40 net run-rate which could prove to be the tie-breaker in the race for semifinal spots.
“If you have belief, miracles happen,” said Shadab, the deputy to skipper Babar Azam.
“We have not played like we were playing before the World Cup but from tomorrow we have to start a winning streak.”
‘You just want to let him fly’
South Africa’s batters have ruled at three venues in the Cricket World Cup and going by their six-hitting template, they surely aren’t going to change their approach against a struggling Pakistan bowling attack in Chennai.
The Proteas virtually batted out former champions Sri Lanka, Australia and England after setting big targets. There was no pause in the relentless power-hitting against Bangladesh either, resulting in another triple-figure win.
With a tally of 407 runs in five games, South Africa’s Quinton de Kock sits at the top of the tournament scoring charts.
“He [de Kock] assesses conditions well and communicates that to us even before we get out onto the field,” South Africa’s stand-in skipper Aiden Markram said after the Bangladesh game.
“You never want to clip his wings, you just want to let him fly.”
Head to head
South Africa hold a considerable edge over Pakistan in their meetings, with 50 wins in 82 ODIs. Pakistan have won on 31 occasions.
The Proteas also lead the Cricket World Cup record, with three wins in five meetings. But Pakistan won their last encounter in 2019 at Lord’s.
Given the slow Chennai pitch and Pakistan’s struggles against left-arm spin, South Africa could bring in Tabraiz Shamsi for one of their fast-bowling all-rounders.
Pakistan have problems in all departments and could ring in a few changes for the all-important match. Opener Fakhar Zaman could make his way back into the side if he has fully recovered from a knee injury and spinning all-rounder Salman Ali Agha could replace leg-spinner Usama Mir.
Pakistan predicted XI: Imam-ul-Haq/Fakhar Zaman, Abdullah Shafique, Babar Azam (captain), Muhammad Rizwan, Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmad, Salman Ali Agha, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf
South Africa predicted XI: Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram (captain), Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Marco Jansen, Tabraiz Shamsi, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Lizaad Williams