Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis is anticipating a tough contest against Pakistan in the ODI series, especially with two key players (Quinton de Kock and Dale Steyn) rested for the first two matches of the series.
Faf du Plessis expects an evenly contested challenge between South African and Pakistan in the first ODI at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Saturday. Du Plessis returns to lead the side after missing the final Test of the 3-0 whitewash due to suspension, and he is wary of a fightback from the reigning Champions Trophy holders in a format that is perfectly suited to the strengths of their squad.
Both teams have welcomed new faces to their respective squads and will be using the series to finalise squad combinations ahead of the World Cup later this year. The Proteas have 10 official matches left ahead of the tournament, and will be hoping to have all their selection questions answered by the end of the series.
‘The Test series went really well,’ said Du Plessis at St George’s Park on Friday. ‘In saying that, I think Pakistan is a very good one-day side. They will be the first to say that from performances over the last year their one-day side has been much stronger than their Test side. It will be a nice challenge for us.
‘They are Champions Trophy winners from 2017 and we are a one-day side that is also trying to find balances within our team. With Quinny (De Kock) and Dale (Steyn) rested for the first two games, it gives us an opportunity to see what else we need to look at, that is important.
‘We have some new faces, Rassie (van der Dussen) is new in the one-day side,’ added Du Plessis. ‘I was impressed with him in the two games he played with the T20 side. It was hard to fit him into the squad to Australia because there is a lot of competition among the batsmen, there are a lot of options available. He then had a great Mzansi Super League, he has been knocking on the door hard. It’s a great time for him to get an opportunity after all the runs he has scored.’
Pakistan have never lost a match at St George’s Park, winning three out of four – with one no-result – and interestingly, former batsman Saleem Elahi holds the record for the highest ODI score (135) at the ground, which he posted back in 2002.
The Proteas are ranked fourth on the ICC ODI team rankings, with Pakistan in fifth position. The match is scheduled to start at 1pm local time.
Saturday 19 January
1st ODI, South Africa vs Pakistan
St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth – 1pm
Tuesday 22 January
2nd ODI, South Africa vs Pakistan
Kingsmead, Durban – 1pm
Proteas ODI squad for 1st two ODIs
Faf du Plessis (Titans, capt)
Hashim Amla (Cape Cobras)
Duanne Olivier (Knights)
Reeza Hendricks (Highveld Lions)
Imran Tahir (Dolphins)
Heinrich Klaasen (Titans)
David Miller (Dolphins)
Dane Paterson (Cape Cobras)
Andile Phehlukwayo (Dolphins)
Dwaine Pretorius (Highveld Lions)
Kagiso Rabada (Highveld Lions)
Tabraiz Shamsi (Titans)
Aiden Markram (Titans)
Rassie van der Dussen (Highveld Lions)
Photo: Cricket South Africa