South Africa vs Pakistan 2nd T20I Preview: Proteas look to get execution right under Klaasen as Pakistan offer a few chinks to exploit
Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen and Tabraiz Shamsi did well for the Proteas in the series opener but Pakistan were successful in pulling things back.
Wait continues for Sharjeel, Haider preferred over Asif
It was already anticipated that Pakistan would go in with Babar Azam, Mohd Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman as their top 3. The only question was whether Babar would open or bat at number 3. Zaman continued his form from the ODIs and made a crucial 19-ball 27 at a strike rate of 142 in the first T20I to change the momentum of the match.
With Mohd Rizwan, Babar Azam and firing, it means that Sharjeel Khan will perhaps have to warm the bench through the entire series.
Another interesting choice that Pakistan made was picking Haider Ali ahead of Asif Ali. If there was vacancy in the top four, there is no doubt that Haider would have been the first choice but given that he has been slotted in at number 5, the position seems a bit too low for him.
Somebody like Asif Ali, who did not do well in the opportunities he got in the ODIs but is a reputed power hitter, can possibly make better use of that spot, especially when Mohammad Nawaz doesn't give you the same batting returns as Imad Wasim.
As a result of the selection, after Pakistan's top 4 in Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar and Mohammad Hafeez, they have a soft underbelly and are dependent too much on Faheem Ashraf to provide the fireworks lower down the order.
Kyle Verreynne hard done
South Africa did not pick Kyle Verreynne in their playing XI and went with Janneman Malan, Aiden Markram, Wihan Lubbe and Heinrich Klaasen as their top 4. While Verreynne was a bit hard done, it is tough to complain after what South Africa's top order achieved.
The team also picked George Linde ahead of Bjorn Fortuin. Unfortunately for him and South Africa, Linde could not make use of the opportunities and dropped a couple of catches while giving away 31 runs from his three overs. He could not impress with the bat as well.
Rizwan on fire
Mohammad Rizwan went on to extend his purple patch in the first T20I with a brilliant 74 off 50 balls. His unbeaten knock included 9 fours and 2 sixes and came at a strike rate of 148. At no phase in the match did Rizwan look rushed and paced his innings beautifully.
He started slowly but kept getting the odd boundary to keep up with the required run rate and held one end up in the process as each of Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez and Haider Ali were dismissed after getting starts.
Rizwan was not considered a fit in T20 cricket a few months ago. He has now scored 584 runs from 30 T20 matches at an average of 36.58 and a strike rate of 123.46 which are not extraordinary numbers.
However, his form of late has been sensational. In the encounters against South Africa over the last few months across formats, Rizwan has scored two centuries, two half centuries and two 40s from 9 innings and has a T20 International average of 135.50 in 2021.
Given that he is brilliant behind the wickets and is providing the team with both stability and boundaries in their batting innings, Rizwan continues to be a crucial cog in the Pakistan T20 wheel.
Pakistan have Sharjeel Khan, Asif Ali, Arshad Iqbal, Danish Aziz, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Zahid Mahmood, Mohammad Hasnain and Sarfaraz Ahmed on the bench. Out of these, only Sharjeel Khan, Asif Ali and Mohammad Hasnain are candidates who are likely to come into the XI, that too towards the end of the series.
South Africa have Kyle Verreynne, Lutho Sipamla, Daryn Dupavillon, Migael Pretorius, Bjorn Fortuin, Wiaan Mulder and Rassie van der Dussen as reserves. With van der Dussen not fully fit, Verreynne is expected to get a look in at some point in the series. The Proteas might also have a relook at their inexperienced bowling attack.
Here's the probable playing XI of both teams:
South Africa - Janneman Malan, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen (c & wk), Pite van Biljon, Wihan Lubbe, George Linde, Andile Phehlukwayo, Sisanda Magala, Beuran Hendricks, Lizaad Williams, Tabraiz Shamsi
Pakistan - Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Haider Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Usman Qadir, Haris Rauf
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