Your essential guide to the Proteas’ Champions Trophy clash against Pakistan at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
The Proteas could all but wrap up a place in the semi-finals should they overcome Pakistan in Birmingham on Wednesday, and it will be a huge shock if they don’t. Pakistan were thoroughly outplayed against India in all departments. The 124-run D/L method defeat included dropped catches, the worst figures in Champions Trophy history, and one batsman striking at over six an over.
What they do have is familiarity with the conditions in Edgbaston, and an encouraging ‘recent’ record over the Proteas. The sides met a staggering 14 times in 2013, and the Proteas won nine of those. In the past four meetings however, Pakistan have a 3-1 edge, including in the group stages of the 2015 World Cup. AB de Villiers did remind us though, that the Proteas won in the Champions Trophy four years ago, and at this very ground.
With just two players remaining from their victory in 2015, Pakistan are a team at a bit of a crossroads at the moment, and their lack of domestic T20 cricket, in which none of them have IPL experience, hasn’t helped. They lack any sort of attacking edge in their top six, and might well rely on the likes of their pacemen – Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali and Junaid Khan – to bowl out the Proteas cheaply and give them a chance of any sort.
KEEP AN EYE ON
A big knock from AB de Villiers will give the whole side a lift. Their skipper had a below-par IPL campaign, impressed in glimpses in the England series, but went out cheaply against Sri Lanka. While it’s encouraging that the Proteas don’t rely on him to score runs as India rely on Virat Kohli or New Zealand rely on Kane Williamson, some form going in to the business end of the tournament would go down well. He averages 61.86 against Pakistan from 31 matches, too.
Pakistan will be placing their chances of victory firmly on a decent showing from Mohammad Amir. The left-arm paceman is quick, and doesn’t require swing to take wickets. He’s devastating when there is some swing about, but he bowled in excellent areas against India, and when he was forced off with cramp, the team took a massive hit. The Proteas batsmen have never faced him before, and he’ll need to make the most of this for his side to stand a chance.
The Proteas are unlikely to change the side at this stage, simply because there’s no need to. Wayne Parnell did hint at the potential for each game to be a horses-for-courses selection when we asked him about his role in the side on Monday, which will keep Andile Phehlukwayo on the edge of his seat, should the pitch lack pace.
Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed told the media on Tuesday that there will be two changes to the side that lost to India. The injured Wahab Riaz has been replaced by Junaid Khan, while Ahmed Shahzad makes way for the uncapped Fakhar Zaman. Mohammad Amir was a slight injury scare with a shoulder niggle, but he passed his fitness test.
PROTEAS 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Faf du Plessis, 4 AB de Villiers (capt), 5 JP Duminy, 6 David Miller, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Wayne Parnell, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir
PAKISTAN 1 Fakhar Zaman, 2 Azhar Ali, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Mohammad Hafeez, 5 Shoaib Malik, 6 Sarfraz Ahmed, 7 Imad Wasim, 8 Mohammad Amir, 9 Shadab Khan, 10 Junaid Khan, 11 Hasan Ali
AB on the Edgbaston return: ‘We beat them at the same ground four years ago. We don’t feel any pressure, it’s up to us to shift the pressure.’
AB on Domingo: ‘We’re with a great coach at the moment who’s really leading the side well and we all get along with him and we all love him as our coach.’
Sarfraz Ahmed relays the good news about Mohammad Amir: ‘Amir is okay. He has a slight injury to his shoulder, but he will play.’