Tour of South Africa: A chance to end the tour on a high

Pakistan eye historic ODI series win against South Africa in final game today.


Our Correspondent March 23, 2013
Misbah's men have an ideal chance to salvage some pride after losing the Test series earlier by a 3-0 margin. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI:


Pakistan will have the chance to clinch their first One-Day International (ODI) series win against South Africa when they take the field at Willowmoore Park, Benoni today.


Not only can Misbahul Haq’s men clinch Pakistan’s first bilateral series against the Proteas, they will have a golden opportunity to do it in South Africa and avenge, to some extent, the 3-0 mauling they received in the Test series at the start of the tour.

Easier said than done

However, it is easier said than done when the mercurial Pakistan side takes the field in any encounter. After being thrashed in the opening ODI, Pakistan bounced back in the second but lost the plot again in the third. However, Misbah and Imran Farhat led the team past the finish line in the fourth game but not without a few hiccups.

However, South Africa have had their fair share of troubles in ODIs and with opener Graeme Smith ruled out of the final game, the hosts will need to muscle all their strength to ensure their unbeaten series record.

Former captain Rashid Latif believes the side is the favourite to win the series.

“I think Pakistan are favourites because pressure will be on South Africa now,” Latif told The Express Tribune. “The team has shown good character in the series and it is pleasing to see Misbah leading from the front after a long time.”

Latif added that the pitch will be expected to help the spinners and this would work in favour of Pakistan, boasting the likes of Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez.

However, he emphasised that wickets up front will be the key and Muhammad Irfan and Junaid Khan will have to play their role once again like they did in Durban.

Irfan is currently the leading wicket-taker in the series with nine wickets while Ajmal is placed second with eight.

Meanwhile, Latif felt that Pakistan needed to bring back Umar Akmal to replace the struggling Younus Khan.

Toss will play an important role: Mohsin

Meanwhile, former chief selector and coach Mohsin Khan said that the toss will play an important role in deciding the outcome of the game.

“Whoever wins the toss will have an upper hand,” said Mohsin. “So far I’ve seen that wherever conditions have favoured Pakistan, they have gone on to win the match.

“I also feel that Pakistan need to come up with alternate plans in case plan A fails. I’ve seen them struggle after they’ve been put on the backfoot and counter strategies are going to be crucial in the series-decider.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2013.

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