South Africa vs Pakistan 3rd ODI Preview: Chance for Babar's boys to take series against depleted Proteas
With five of their top players having departed to India for the IPL, it will be a massive achievement for South Africa if they manage to seal the series.
League vs country debate
This is the closest that cricket has come to football. A scenario such as this with the top players of a national team flying out of the country to be part of a league in the middle of a series has been seen in football a lot but not in cricket that often. In fact, it would have been unimaginable in the eras gone by.
However, the quicker we come to terms with the reality of the current cricketing scenario, the better. And, the reality is that the cash-rich IPL has become a huge force. Well, it has been a massive force for several years now, but the fact has only been highlighted in the times of COVID-19.
The South African players will miss out four International matches against Pakistan to serve a 7-day quarantine in India and get ready for the IPL. There has been uproar over the no objection certificate of Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman even when they are not likely to be part of the starting XI for their respective IPL franchises. The two-match test series between New Zealand and England just before the World Test Championship will also be affected due to the IPL.
Janneman Malan & Kyle Verreynne to get a game
Five Protea players, and the best ones at that, Quinton de Kock, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi, have already flown out of South Africa and will be unavailable for the third and the last ODI of the series on Wednesday.
In spite of it being a decider, South Africa will have to make do with their second line of defence or as Charl Langeveldt chose to see the silver lining, it will be a chance for South Africa to test their bench strength and will also provide an opportunity for the incoming players to prove their potential.
Janneman Malan will open alongside Aiken Markram in the decider. Kyle Verreynne will replace David Miller, who looked in great touch in the first two matches, in the middle order. In the absence of Quinton de Kock, Heinrich Klaasen will take the gloves while batting at No. 6.
Big boots to fill in Rabada, Ngidi and Nortje's absence
While South Africa will still be able to manage with the changes in batting, what will hurt them the most is the degradation in quality of their pace bowling riches. Rabada, Ngidi and Nortje will be replaced by Lutho Sipamla and Daryn Dupavillon.
For the third spot, South Africa will consider bringing in Keshav Maharaj as a second spinner ahead of Beuran Hendricks. However, given that Tabraiz Shamsi has not found any control in the series till now, the team is likely to opt for left-armer Hendricks.
Pakistan mull changes to middle order, Hasan Ali's return
This is the best opportunity for Pakistan to win their first ODI series against a top 7 ranked team since 2013, when they beat South Africa at home. Although Pakistan have put in brilliant performances in the first two matches of the series, they have a couple of concerns in the middle order.
Youngster Danish Aziz has not been able to deliver the goods while Asif Ali has given his wicket away through soft dismissals in both the first two ODIs. As a result, Haider Ali is likely to get a look-in in the decider.
Hasan Ali was declared fit and available by Pakistan captain Babar Azam before the beginning of the series and the team might have to fall back on the experience of the medium pacer in the decider.
With Haris Rauf having done well in the last match and Shaheen Afridi a force for Pakistan, particularly in the powerplay, Ali will come in - if at all - in place of Mohammad Hasnain, who has himself been impressive in the first two ODIs.
Here's the probable playing XI of both teams:
South Africa - Aiden Markram, Janneman Malan, Temba Bavuma (c), Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Andile Phehlukwayo, Beuran Hendricks/Keshav Maharaj, Daryn Dupavillon, Lutho Sipamla, Tabraiz Shamsi
Pakistan - Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Danish Aziz, Haider Ali/Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Usman Qadir, Mohammad Hasnain/Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf
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