The third T20I at Centurion could be the last chance for players to show World Cup selectors their worth, writes KHALID MOHIDIN.
The series has been sealed. The Proteas have taken an unassailable 2-0 lead with a seven-run win against Pakistan to break their 11-series unbeaten streak.
The home side showed resilience and grit to pull off a remarkable series victory against the No 1-ranked T20I team.
With one more T20I to go, there is a final shot for players to show their worth ahead of the white-ball series against Sri Lanka in March – the Proteas’ final bout before the World Cup.
There have only previously been seven T20Is at Centurion and the Proteas have won four of them, with their last victory coming against India in February 2018. Any total between 190 and 220 should be defendable, although teams chasing seem to have the edge batting on the SuperSport Park pitch.
There are certain attributes that have been missing in the ODI side for some time – ruthless batting and relentless bowling at the death. Both of these qualities were shown in the first and second T20Is against Pakistan.
Chris Morris and Andile Phehlukwayo showed their ability to contain the opposition in the final overs by striking during periods when the advantage was swinging towards the opposition. Faf du Plessis, Reeza Hendricks, Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller showed that they could accelerate the run rate at will with minimal risk.
It is now up to the rest to show that they have qualities that the Proteas’ ODI setup craves.
Players to Watch
Heinrich Klaasen, the back-up wicketkeeper for Quinton de Kock, was considered as one of the forerunners for the No 6 spot, but with Rassie van der Dussen’s form and JP Duminy’s resurgence before his injury, the 27-year-old seems to have fallen down the pecking order regarding a starting spot. David Miller showed why the Proteas persist with his selection, so the available spots in the batting lineup are starting to slip away fast.
Chris Morris was starting to lose favour with Proteas supporters and selectors, and he showed nerve in the two T20Is that may prove his selection worthy, but Andile Phehlukwayo’s performances with both bat and ball in the past two months have put him ahead of Morris as the first-choice bowling all-rounder.
The third T20I will give the Proteas the perfect opportunity to test their only batting all-rounder, Wiaan Mulder. Batting him at No 4 or 5 will give him the opportunity to show his worth with the willow, and he should be a serious consideration for the dead-rubber clash.
Pakistan will need a little bit of luck to go their way. They have been finding great starts with bat and ball, but have struggled to be ruthless towards the end of an innings. If their all-rounders can be more effective, they will stand a better chance of dominating the Proteas.
1) Janneman Malan
2) Reeza Hendricks
3) Rassie van der Dussen
4) Wiaan Mulder
5) David Miller (c)
6) Heinrich Klaasen (wk)
7) Andile Phehlukwayo
8) Chris Morris
9) Lutho Sipamla
10) Beuran Hendricks
11) Tabraiz Shamsi
1) Fakhar Zaman
2) Babar Azam
3) Hussain Talat
4) Mohammad Rizwan (wk)
5) Shoaib Malik (c)
6) Asif Ali
7) Imad Wasim
8) Shadab Khan
9) Hasan Ali
10) Shaheen Afridi
11) Usman Shinwari
Play starts at 6pm on Wednesday at SuperSport Park.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images