Pakistan is all set to play one-day international cricket after five months against South Africa on the venues of Centurion and Johannesburg.
Green Shirts’ fans are also eager to see their stars again after an embarrassing last month where season six of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) was postponed after the COVID-19 fallout.
The three-match series against Proteas is the first real test of Misbah-ul-Haq’s team management as the side has only played two ODI series (Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe) after the 2019 World Cup.
It’s not just the case with Pakistan only but the 50-over game has been neglected all over the world as 2021 and 2022 are the year of T20 World Cups.
The teams have shifted their focus to a shorter format but the ODI cricket holds more significance than ever before as the matches are part of the ICC World Cup Super League, which will lead to the qualification of the 2023 World Cup in India.
What to expect from Pakistan in South Africa ODIs?
Pakistan has been blamed for not playing the explosive style of ODI cricket for several years now. The approach of scoring 325-350 while batting first, however, Pakistan will look to change this notion now.
Viewing the world cup will be played in Asia and the recently concluded India-England, series, skipper Babar Azam would have some kind of thinking of playing the similar kind of ODI cricket.
But the question arises that will Pakistan be able to play aggressively with Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Rizwan and Babar himself batting at the top four.
Babar and Rizwan have the capability of changing gears and with the inclusion of Haider Ali, Danish Aziz and the comeback of Asif Ali in the side, we can expect Pakistan to play ‘modern-day cricket’.
Pakistan are coming in this series with a ‘super-over loss’ against Zimbabwe, however, the past record is highly impressive as they have won eight out of 10 matches.
Who will be Shaheen Shah’s new-ball pair?
It would be interesting to see who takes the new ball alongside Shaheen Shah. The news has been coming in from South Africa that Hasan Ali is not in his groove after he recently recovered from COVID-19 and might not play first two ODIs
The other two nominees are Haris Rauf and Mohammad Hasnain. Hasnain has been with the white-ball team since 2019 World Cup but he hasn’t been provided consistent chances too.
Former captain Ramiz Raja also recently backed Hasnain’s inclusion due to their ability of bowling with extreme pace but team management’s has been very kind to Haris in recent times.
On the other hand, Pakistan’s spin department looks fragile. Mohammad Nawaz is making his comeback while vice-captain Shadab Khan is struggling to get back his form post-injury.
It is understandable that the series will be a ‘decider’ for Shadab due to a dip in his bowling while Usman Qadir is also constantly knocking to cement place in the final XI.
Pakistan’s predicted XI
Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam (C), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Danish Aziz, Haider Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain