• Five key talking points ahead of Newlands T20I

    South Africa take on Pakistan in a three-match series and Newlands is the destination for the first T20I. ANITHA MADIKIZELA takes a look at five key talking points ahead of the encounter.

    The Proteas have played Pakistan 11 times in the past with South Africa winning six of the encounters to the visitors’ five. Pakistan will hope to level the score and possibly eclipse the home team as they look to extend their record 11-series winning streak, dating back to the 2016 ICC World T20 in India.

    READ PREVIEW: Proteas vs Pakistan (1st T20I)

    Hafeez vs Proteas

    Mohammad Hafeez has been sensational for Pakistan against the South Africans, and has plenty of records on the horizon to back up his dominant display in the 10 matches he has played against the Proteas.

    • He needs 36 more runs to pass Umar Akmal’s 255 runs as Pakistan’s leading run-scorer against the Proteas. He’s also just two sixes away from breaking Akmal’s record of 10 sixes against South Africa.
    • Hafeez is three wickets away from equalling Saeed Ajmal’s record 12 wickets against the Proteas, and will hope to have a good day with the ball at Newlands to reach and possibly go past the milestone.
    • He needs 92 runs to reach 2000 T20I career runs, only six more than his highest score of 86 achieved in Centurion against South Africa in 2013.

    READ MORE: ICC’s illegal bowling actions policy baffles Hafeez

    Debutants to look out for

    • Wiaan Mulder returned to the Proteas setup for the fifth ODI, and looks set to make his T20I debut for South Africa in Newlands after having returned from his injury lay-off.
    • Lutho Sipamla has been rewarded for his world-class performances for the Tshwane Spartans in the inaugural Mzansi Super League with a call-up to the Proteas squad, and will be keen to make his debut during the series against Pakistan.

    READ MORE: Sipamla has all the credentials – AB

    Team form

    • South Africa have won just four of their eight T20I series since the 2016 ICC World T20, and while the results have been hot and cold, the Proteas were able to win their encounters with Zimbabwe and Australia by 2-0 and 1-0 respectively.
    • Pakistan have been in scintillating form in T20I’s since 2016. They will look to continue their nine-match winning streak – which includes recent series whitewashes against Australia and New Zealand – into 2019 in the hopes of tying down their No 1 spot in the ICC T20I Team rankings.

    ICC Rankings

    • Pakistan are by far the best T20I team in the world at the moment and their achievements in the past two years are mirrored by their No 1 ICC ranking. South Africa currently sit in fifth position behind India, England and Australia respectively.
    • The highest-ranked Proteas batsmen are Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis at 20 and 21 respectively, while Imran Tahir leads the South African bowlers with his No 10 ranking.
    • Shadab Khan has been destructive with the ball in 2018 on his way to picking up a record-best 28 wickets in a calendar year for Pakistan and claims No 2 spot on the bowler rankings. Faheem Ashraf and Imad Wasim have complemented him well as they claim eighth and ninth spot on the rankings.
    • Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman have been in scintillating form in 2018 and Zaman’s record-best 576 runs for Pakistan in a calendar year have seen him rise to fifth in the batsmen rankings, while Babar Azam’s consistency at the top of the order merits him top spot on the batting charts.

    READ ALSO: Babar Azam fastest to 1,000 T20I runs

    The missing Duminy link

    JP Duminy has been South Africa’s most valuable player in T20I’s, but will be missing as he recovers from a lengthy lay-off due to his shoulder injury. Many will question how just much the Proteas could miss the all-rounder during the crunch series against Pakistan considering his past contributions.

    • Duminy is the leading run-scorer for the Proteas with 1858 runs in 78 matches at a strike rate of 124.36 and a 37.91 average. He has been particularly destructive at Newlands with his 229 runs at an above-par 131.60 strike rate and 45.80 average. He leads the charts against Pakistan with 214 runs in eight matches.
    • He has also been sensational in the field for the Proteas with a record-topping five catches against Pakistan and 34 catches overall, which is second only to David Miller’s 37 for the Proteas.
    • Duminy leads the South Africans on the ICC T20I All-rounder rankings at No 6 – dropping one position from his previously-held fifth, mainly due to his lack of play in the past couple of months.

    South Africa and Pakistan will face off on Friday for the first T20I in Newlands at 6pm following the Proteas Women’s encounter against Sri Lanka at 1pm at the same venue.

    Photo: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images