Following an exciting two-match Test series, the home side Pakistan and inexperienced South Africa go head to head in the shortest format of the game.
All three T20Is are scheduled to take place at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on February 11, 13 and 14. The matches will start at 6.00 pm (PST) and will be live-streamed on Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) YouTube channel.
For the fans in Pakistan, the series can be called as ‘starter’ to the Pakistan Super League (PSL) season six which is scheduled to start from February 20 at National Stadium, Karachi while the visitors will look to stamp their authority after humiliation in Tests but for this, they would have to come harder without their seasoned campaigners.
Pakistan will look to take inspiration from Napier T20I against New Zealand where they won a thrilling encounter by five wickets and due to their solid home record after a horrible defeat to Sri Lanka.
But the wins at home for Pakistan have come against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe while Proteas are fourth at the team rankings, they pose a bigger threat to them despite their T20 regulars.
Pakistan were ranked No.1 when they last played South Africa and this series also presents a similar kind of situation to further improve rankings as they are bound to play almost 20 T20Is before the T20 World Cup in India later this year.
Although, Pakistan have dropped few of their core members while some of them were unavailable, but the series has the perfect opportunity for the likes of Iftikhar Ahmed, Hussain Talat, Aamir Yamin, Hasan Ali, Asif Ali and Usman Qadir to cement their place.
Uncapped players Danish Aziz, Amad Butt, Zahid Mehmood and Zafar Gohar, who were constantly knocking the doors of the national team through their performances in domestic cricket, can also make their case strong going forward.
Meanwhile, Pakistan might look to rest key members Shaheen Shah, Mohammad Rizwan and Faheem Ashraf in some of these fixtures as they had a exhausting time in the middle during Tests.
For the Men in Green, skipper Babar Azam returns to normal after he missed out on the series in New Zealand due to thumb injury. He has a great record against the Proteas, scoring 151 runs in three outings at an average of 50.33 and strike-rate of 157.
Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (c), Aamer Yamin, Amad Butt, Asif Ali, Danish Aziz, Faheem Ashraf, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Afridi, Usman Qadir, Zafar Gohar, Zahid Mahmood
South Africa under the stand-in captain Henrich Klassen has the bulk of responsibility alongside David Miller, Reeza Hendricks, Andile Phehlukwayo and Tabraiz Shamsi, who are coming with a good amount of experience in this format.
It should also be recalled that initially, they planned to send key players back home in order to stay fresh for Australia Tests but still after the cancellation, they didn’t make any changes in the squad which was quite surprising viewing it is the year of T20 World Cup.
They have an edge in terms of head to head results against the home side, beating them in eight matches and losing only six while they also have a good record in Asia, winning 18 out of their 28.
Few players can come out as a wildcard for Proteas in this series. The 24-year Janneman Malan and all-rounder George Linde, who took fifer in the last Test.
Malan is in a good form with scores of 67, 95 and 69* in last three List A matches. He also has a healthy strike-rate of 135 in T20 cricket that can allow South Africa to have the best of starts from the top.
With a good knowledge of the conditions after playing Test series, Linde can be vital for South Africa in T20Is. The 29-year-old has a vast experince of 84 T20 matches and also bats at a strike rate of 130+ with bowling economy of 7.32.
South Africa squad: Heinrich Klaasen (c), Nandre Burger, Okuhle Cele, Junior Dala, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, George Linde, Janneman Malan, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Ryan Rickelton, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lutho Sipamla, Jon-Jon Smuts, Pite van Biljon, Glenton Stuurman, Jacques Snyman