South Africa vs Pakistan 3rd T20I Preview: With series at 1-1, Pakistan walk the tight rope of aggression and recklessness
Pakistan are high on confidence after some impressive performances in South Africa but need to respect good bowling in order to be consistent.
After a 4-wicket defeat in the first T20I, South Africa's stand-in captain Heinrich Klaasen said that the team had its plans in place. What they were lacking was execution.
The home team managed to achieve that in the second match of the 4-match T20I series. George Linde, who did not have a particularly memorable game in the series opener, made a mark right away, picking up two wickets from his first two overs to jolt Pakistan at the start. He came back to dismiss the dangerous Mohammad Hafeez and never allowed the Pakistan innings to get going.
Likewise, Sisanda Magala, who bowled a horrible first over, bounced back strongly. Taking the new rock, he conceded as many as 18 runs in the over which lasted for 12 balls, setting the unwanted record of being the longest opening over in T20 International cricket.
Magala started off with two front-foot no-balls and then bowled a high full toss and a wide yorker. His first ball of the over was another wide yorker which Haider Ali helped over short third man for a boundary. Magala followed it up with one that went to mid wicket for two, but could not close out the over as he bowled another wide down the leg side. Babar Azam then hit one through third man for four, which was followed by another wide down the leg side.
Despite the over going for 18 runs, the captaincy of Klaasen has to be appreciated - to give him the ball again for his next over. Magala kept getting better from there on and conceded just six runs from his second over and four runs and one wicket from his next, getting rid of Babar Azam, which shaved off 10-15 runs from the Pakistan total.
Aggressive or reckless?
Pakistan have gained a lot of confidence after registering consecutive wins but that confidence can easily spill over into overconfidence.
That Pakistan wanted to be ultra aggressive from the outset in the second T20I and put South Africa under pressure was evident, but the move backfired. Rizwan, who has been sensational for Pakistan in the shortest format, charged down the track on the very first ball of the innings in an attempt to loft George Linde over long-on, but could only hit as far as Aiden Markram at mid-off. This ended Rizwan's streak of 10 consecutive 40 plus scores in T20Is.
Sharjeel Khan, who replaced Fakhar Zaman in the playing XI, also ended up slicing the ball to Markram at mid-off.
Although Babar Azam scored a half century, the only Pakistan batsman to do so, he did it at run a ball with did not help the team's cause. Mohammad Hafeez was the most dangerous batsman for Pakistan on the day and scored 32 off 23 deliveries, including 6 fours, but got dismissed at the wrong time.
Post that, there were no notable contributions from the Pakistan batsmen as the team could only manage 140 runs from their 20 overs. And, the blame for that, lies on the team's approach. There is a fine line between being aggressive and being reckless. Unfortunately for Pakistan, they leaned towards the latter in the second T20I.
Sharjeel, Hasnain to keep their place
Pakistan made two changes in the second T20I. They had to bring in Sharjeel Khan in place of Fakhar Zaman after the dashing left handed batsman suffered a minor allergy on his left leg. Sharjeel Khan could not impress on his international comeback but is expected to keep his spot.
Mohammad Hasnain also replaced Haris Rauf after the latter was expensive in the series opener, but could get to bowl only two overs and is expected to retain his place as well.
South Africa are unlikely to make any changes after a resounding victory.
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 - Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Sharjeel Khan, Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Hafeez, Haider Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Usman Qadir, Mohammad Hasnain
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