BIRMINGHAM: Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed put up a brave face ahead of their must-win clash against South Africa in Birmingham on Wednesday after their forgettable defeat to India in their ICC Champions Trophy opener.
Pakistan’s crushing 124-run loss to the title-holders at the same venue met criticism for it’s lop-sided nature and left Sarfraz and co. to need a comprehensive win against world number one South Africa who will come even harder than India.
Sarfraz believed he and his men need to move on from the painful loss to India.
“We played poorly and lost, but the first match is gone and we have to move on,” said the wicket-keeper batsman.
The weather conditions are expected to be better for play than they were during the India game as less rain is predicted.
Pakistan, who conceded a big total of 319 in a sloppy bowling and fielding performance against India will have to be a tighter against the Proteas who boast the leadership of AB de Villiers who can single-handedly destroy oppositions with the bat.
With left-armer Wahab Riaz out due to injury and Ahmed Shehzad set to be dropped, pacer Junaid Khan and opener Fakhar Zaman will feature against South Africa, Sarfraz announced.
Junaid, surprisingly did not play against India despite a decent show in the warm-up match against Bangladesh.
Fakhar, on the other side, will make his ODI debut after playing three T20s for country.
AB plays down spin-threat
South African skipper AB de Villiers played down the threat of Pakistan’s spinners, with Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan backed up by Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik.
“Yeah, two of the four are part-time spinners. We’ve played against a lot of opposition in the last, two, three years with two spinners in it. We just played a series against England now with a couple of spinners in at wrist spinner, also finger spinner,” said De Villiers.
South Africa’s Imran Tahir, man-of-the-match in their first game with four for 27, always had a point to prove against Pakistan.
He started his career in Pakistan but never got a chance to play international cricket before moving to South Africa and never looked back.
Their pace attack is led by Kagiso Rabada and aided by Morne Morkel, and Chris Morris
South African top order is also in good nick with Hashim Amla notching a brilliant hundred in their 96-run win over a hapless Sri Lanka.
De Villiers is the most destructive batsman in limited overs cricket along with Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy as competent as anyone in the world.
That leaves Pakistan’s task enormous but the fact that it will be curtains if they loose may inspire the young team to make an unexpected comeback.