Short a host of regulars, South Africa will be up against it in the T20I series against Pakistan. However, with those absences comes the chance for the Proteas to test their depth ahead of this year’s ICC T20 World Cup.
South Africa vs Pakistan, 1st T20I
New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
Saturday, 10 April, 2:30pm local
After losing a rollercoaster ODI series 2-1 against Pakistan, South Africa are looking to bounce back in the T20Is and test their rising stars against in-form opposition.
Having already released Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje to play in the IPL ahead of this year’s T20 World Cup in India, South Africa has since suffered injuries to key men. Captain Temba Bavuma has been ruled out with a hamstring injury, while Dwaine Pretorius has not been medically cleared to take part as he continues rehabilitation from a rib fracture. Rassie van der Dussen has remained the with the squad but he is currently battling a quad injury, and Reeza Hendricks has withdrawn following the birth of his first child.
Despite the setbacks, coach Mark Boucher sees a silver lining.
“It’s a young squad and the guys are all desperate for opportunities,” Boucher said after the final ODI.
“It’s not ideal having a couple of injuries, but it brings an opportunity and I know there are quite a few very hungry guys in our T20 squad who would like to represent their country and see what it’s all about at international level.”
Janneman Malan and Kyle Verreynne both impressed in the final ODI, scoring 78 and 62 respectively and both will be hoping for further opportunities this month. Fast bowler Lutho Sipamla will similarly be looking to establish himself at this level.
Just like for South Africa, this series is another chance for Pakistan to ready themselves for the T20 World Cup.
Fixtures - all times local
First T20I: Saturday, 10 April, 2:30pm at Johannesburg
Second T20I: Monday, 12 April, 2:30pm at Johannesburg
Third T20I: Wednesday, 14 April, 2:30pm at Centurion
Fourth T20I: Friday, 16 April, 2:30pm at Centurion
Heinrich Klaasen (c), Daryn Dupavillon, Bjorn Fortuin, Beuran Hendricks, George Linde, Wihan Lubbe, Sisanda Magala, Janneman Malan, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Andile Phehlukwayo, Migael Pretorius, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lutho Sipamla, Pite van Biljon, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams
Babar Azam (c), Arshad Iqbal, Asif Ali, Danish Aziz, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sharjeel Khan, Usman Qadir, Zahid Mahmood
Look out for
Sitting atop the ICC’s T20I bowling rankings, Tabraiz Shamsi looms as the key man in South Africa’s attack against Pakistan. The left-arm wrist-spinner took six wickets at 10.16 in the last series these two teams played, leaking just 5.08 runs per over.
The wicket-keeper-batsman has been close to irrepressible in T20I cricket since being pushed up to the top of the order late last year. He has averaged 65 with a strike rate of 140.69 since making the move with scores of 42, 51, 104* and 89 across his past four T20I innings.
Remember the last time
The last time either of these teams played T20I cricket was actually against one another. That was in February this year, a series in Pakistan won 2-1 by the hosts.
Rizwan was the stand out player in that series, scoring an unbeaten century in the first game, a half-century as Pakistan lost the second match and an important 42 in the series decider.
In a boon to a depleted South African outfit, they’ll still have the services of their best bowlers from that series in Shamsi.
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