After the painful defeat in a recent Test series, Pakistan will seek a change of fortune in five ODI series against South Africa starting from Saturday at St George’s Park.
The tourists are optimistic to dominate in the 50-overs game where fast short-pitched bowling will likely not be a key factor.
The series is important for both the teams to step towards the Cricket World Cup in England and Wales later this year.
Pakistan’s head coach Mickey Arthur believes that his side is far better in 50 over format as compared to Test cricket,
“We’re certainly a far better white-ball team than we are a Test unit at the minute,” said Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur after the third Test on Monday.
That seems a reasonable assessment as Pakistan have shown their ability in one-day cricket, notably when they won the Champions Trophy in England in 2017. Since the start of that tournament, during which they beat South Africa in a rain-shortened match, they have compiled a 17-10 winning record.
Pakistan’s batting will become stronger after the inclusion of experienced batsmen like Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik, while they have a capable attack in which spinners Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim could play key roles.
The aggressive left-handed opening batsman Fakhar Zaman, was exposed against the short ball in the Tests, being dropped after scoring only 32 runs in four innings, but has hit 1275 runs at an average of 57.95 in one-day internationals, scored at close to a run a ball.
Meanwhile, South Africa have based their World Cup plans on picking four specialist bowlers but have yet to settle on a batting all-rounder to fill the crucial number seven position.
The Proteas’ fast bowler Dale Steyn and wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock have been rested for the first two one-day internationals. The changes provide opening batsman Aiden Markram with another opportunity to shine in a format in which he has yet to assert himself, while fast bowler Duanne Olivier was rewarded for his man of the series performances in the Tests with a first one-day call-up.
The green shirts have played 29 ODIs against South Africa in their home ground and have won just 10 of them. Since 2000, they have played four bilateral series in the country and have won just once.
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (capt, wkt), Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali, Hussain Talat, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan (wkt), Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shan Masood, Shoaib Malik, Usman Khan
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (capt), Hashim Amla, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Heinrich Klaasen (wkt), Aiden Markram, David Miller, Duanne Olivier, Dane Paterson, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen
January 19, Port Elizabeth
January 22, Durban
January 25, Centurion
January 27, Johannesburg
January 30, Cape Town