The pitch at Port Elizabeth in the first ODI was one of the flattest surfaces you'll ever come across. The Pakistani bowlers struggled first up and could only manage two wickets. However, they bowled good line and lengths and did not allow South Africa to get away.
Hashim Amla played a good knock of unbeaten 108 but at a strike rate of only 90. When you bat through the entire innings, it is expected of you to atleast score at run a ball if not more. Amla's batting cost the team some 15-20 runs which proved to be the difference. Reeza Hendricks and Rassie van der Dussen were also not quick enough. This is why despite losing only two wickets, South Africa scored just 266 runs which was below par as per the contemporary ODI standards.
South Africa's bowling line up looks a bit inexperienced apart from Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir. The likes of Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo and Duanne Olivier clearly lack the maturity and experience required for bowling in ODIs.
Pakistan got a good platform in the first ODI with Imam Ul Haq and Babar Azam scoring 86 and 49 respectively. The match was then closed by Mohammad Hafeez who scored an unbeaten 71.
This can pretty much set the template for the remaining matches as South Africa are looking a bit out of sorts. Hasan Ali and Imad Wasim were economical and will have a big role to play in the remaining series.
Let's have a look at the probable playing XI of both teams.
South Africa- Reeza Hendricks, Hashim Amla, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis, David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen, Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Duanne Olivier
Pakistan- Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Usman Khan
Who will win? – Pakistan
Top Batsman (Runs Scored) –Babar Azam (Pakistan), Hashim Amla (South Africa)
Top Bowler (Wickets taken) – Shadab Khan (Pakistan), Imran Tahir (South Africa)
Most Sixes – Babar Azam (Pakistan), Reeza Hendricks (South Africa)
Team Scores Batting First – Pakistan 260+, South Africa 240+
*NB these predictions may be changed nearer the start of the match once the final starting teams have been announced and we will be running ‘In–Play’ features soon, so stay tuned.
©Cricket World 2019