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South Africa vs Pakistan, 1st ODI, Preview: World Cup in focus as the visitors look to revive their fortunes

South Africa start the series as favourites.

Hashim Amla
Hashim Amla. (Photo by Richard Huggard/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

After intimidating Pakistan with a whitewash in the Test series, South Africa will play five ODIs against the same opposition. Both these teams begin their preparations for the World Cup 2019 with this series first up. For the last two months, both the Proteas and Pakistan didn’t play any one-day international cricket.

Hence, this series will be extremely critical for them going forward, not only to get their combinations right but also to gain some momentum early on. Despite the loss in the Test series, the visitors will go in as a much confident side owing to their performances in the last five encounters against South Africa. Pakistan last played ODIs in South Africa in 2013/14, when they defeated the hosts 2-1.

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Then, they met twice later on, once in World Cup 2015 and once in the Champions Trophy 2017. Pakistan won both these games quite comfortably. But, they’ll have to be wary of the fact that South Africa won their last three ODI series against Sri Lanka (in Sri Lanka), Zimbabwe and Australia (in Australia). One cannot take the Proteas lightly, for they’ve got some of the best players in world cricket.

Team Combinations

South Africa

The home side has made some changes to the squad from the last time they played Australia. For the series opener, they might try out a debutant in the form of Rassie van der Dussen to open the innings with Aiden Markram. Hashim Amla, who is back after a brief hiatus will bat at number three. Faf du Plessis, Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller will complete the batting lineup. Imran Tahir will be the lone spinner in the attack. Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo will share the pace bowling duties.

Predicted XI: Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis (c), Heinrich Klaasen (wk), David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dane Paterson, Dwaine Pretorius, Imran Tahir, Kagiso Rabada.

Pakistan

Pakistan also made a few changes with their combinations. The visitors might want to open the innings with Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq followed by Mohammad Hafeez at three. Babar Azam might have to bat at number four to strengthen the middle-order. He will be followed by Sarfraz Ahmed and Faheem Ashraf. While Shadab Khan will take up the spinner duties, it’ll be Hasan Ali and Usman Khan who will handle the pace department. One bowler between Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Amir could be picked with the former being the most likely.

Predicted XI: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (c) (wk), Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Usman Khan, Shaheen Afridi/Mohammad Amir.

Focus will be on

Hashim Amla (South Africa)

Hashim Amla seemed to have found his touch back in the Test series against Pakistan. With 209 runs in 6 innings at an average of 52.25, he was the fourth highest run-scorer. However, he will return to the ODI fold after over five months and there will be a lot of eyes following him up keenly. Amla will hope to replicate the same kind of spot in limited-overs cricket as well and thus cement his World Cup spot.

Imam-ul-Haq (Pakistan)

Imam-ul-Haq didn’t have the best of the Test series. He only scored 149 runs in six innings at an average of 25. But, he will hope to turn things around in this different format of the game. He has got to perform well if he is to make a case for the mega-tournament this year. On a personal front, this is a huge series for the 23-year-old.

Head to Head

Matches – 73 | South Africa won – 47 | Pakistan won – 25 | NR – 1

Stat Attack

819 – Runs scored by Imam-ul-Haq in ODIs thus far. He’ll need another 181 runs in the next two innings to level Fakhar Zaman’s record. The left-hander will break the record of Sir Vivian Richards (21 innings) in case he gets there within the next four innings.

304 – The runs Hashim Amla has to score in the next eight innings to break Virat Kohli’s record of being fastest to 8,000 ODI runs. The South African will be eyeing at breaking this record in this series itself.

Broadcast Details

TV – Sony ESPN and Sony ESPN HD

Live Streaming – Hotstar

Match Timings – 16:30 IST; 13:00 local

Get the latest Cricket News and updates from South Africa vs Pakistan series, Match PredictionsFantasy Cricket Tips and lots more on CricTracker.com.

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