Pakistan v South Africa, ICC World Twenty20 semi-final, 1630 GMT
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By Peter Exley
The first semi-final of the ICC World Twenty20 takes place today at Trent Bridge with tournament favourites South Africa taking on Pakistan.
Perennial semi-finalists South Africa will want to dispel any thoughts that they cannot handle the pressure of the latter stages of major tournaments with a win over rivals Pakistan, whereas the latter will be aiming to maintain their good form which has been a problem now for them for many years. Speaking to CricketWorld.com, all-rounder Albie Morkel spoke of the desire to win this tournament:
"A lot of the seniors players have never won a World Cup and that's the only thing missing, so we will all be trying hard to do that," he said.
South Africa reached the semi-finals with a perfect record in the competition, brushing aside all opponents with ease. It wasn't just the fact that they won the matches, it was the style in which they did so that has had many onlookers predicting that they will no doubt become champions.
Leading run scorer for South Africa, AB de Villiers showed his versatility against India with a more reserved knock that did not feature any sixes, proving that he can adapt his game to suit every situation. Morne Morkel added:
"The senior players have led from the front but also players like de Villiers have matured a lot over the past couple of years."
The Proteas will also welcome back Jacques Kallis to the side. He was ruled out of the final Super Eight game with a minor back injury but his batting will add even more solidity to the batting line up. Kallis has looked a man re-born in this tournament, showing his critics that he can change his apparent 'one-paced' limited overs style to become a quick scoring twenty20 opener. He has formed a formidable partnership with captain Graeme Smith at the top of the order which sets a platform for the likes of Albie Morkel and Roelof van der Merwe to swing from the hip in the latter overs.
South Africa's bowling has been its usual hostile self, with Dale Steyn continuing to show what a world class bowler he has become and Wayne Parnell bursting onto the international scene. However, they have added subtlety to the attack in the form of spin from Johan Botha and van der Merwe and this match could come down to a battle of the slow bowlers.
Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal has performed admirably in this tournament so far and is looking like a good prospect for Pakistan cricket in the future. The Trent Bridge pitch showed yesterday that it would produce large amounts of turn and the mystery of Ajmal could well prove difficult to face. The leg-spin of Shahid Afridi has also been very effective, he seems a new man with the ball in hand whilst his batting continues to falter. However no one would want to write off a man that is so capable of destroying even the best bowlers in the world.
In Wayne Parnell and Umar Gul we have two of the best death bowlers from the tournament and they have consistently been able to fire in toe crushing yorkers at the end of the innings. This match has the makings of a very close encounter so it could be a mistake from one of these two pace men that could eliminate their respective team.
The scene is set for what promises to be a game of flair and excitement. South Africa have been the favourites from the onset of the competition however, after their opening day defeat to England, Pakistan have gone from strength to strength, and if the real Pakistan turn up, who knows what they are capable of.
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