CAPETOWN: Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq will pose the biggest threat for South Africa and if they can nullify him on March 7 at Eden Park in Auckland, half the battle is won, feels former Proteas skipper Graeme Smith.
“Pakistan always presents a different prospect. They are difficult to prepare for due to their unpredictability often rendering tactics and strategies obsolete on the day. They have looked underwhelming thus far in the tournament but it isn’t their style to look anything but that in the early parts of any tournament,” former prolific opener Smith wrote in his exclusive column for ICC.
“Misbah-ul-Haq represents the biggest threat and I will go as far to say that if the Proteas can nullify him half the battle is won such is his influence. He is the only one of the top and middle-order who has shown any form thus far this tournament,” he added.
“One area in which the Pakistanis represent real danger is their lower-middle order. Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi and Wahab Riaz are all potentially explosive players who have each given an indication that they are finding some respective form with the bat. They have rallied thus far in each of Pakistan’s games giving the scorecard some impetus and respectability.”
“The Pakistani pace attack is fairly raw for a tournament of this stature. I faced one of the quickest spells in my career from Mohammad Irfan in 2013 and he will again lead the attack. Rahat Ali and Wahab Riaz will provide the variation with their left-arm swing. Afridi and Haris Sohail will complement them with their left-arm slow and legbreaks respectively,” he stressed.
“I feel that they (South Africa) planned to adopt a ‘horses for courses’ approach based on the opposition and the conditions. This was evident by the selection of Wayne Parnell ahead of Farhan Berhardien against India. The number-seven batsman and makeup of the fifth bowler will continue to dominate selection conversations leading up to the game and I believe the panel will revert to Berhardien in that role for this fixture.
“The Proteas will know that victory in this fixture will provide them with the confidence, momentum and belief that they will so desperately want going into the knock-out stages. Defeat is something that they won’t even be contemplating.”