If there has ever been a case of contrasting sides, it is Pakistan and South Africa.
The former could not put bat to ball, but when their backs were against the wall, 170 was nearly defended against the West Indies.
South Africa’s bowling reputation was torn to shreds by India’s Shikhar Dhawan and company on a sunny Cardiff afternoon.
The sun did not set on South Africa’s progress then, but it could do so should they fail to get victory against Pakistan today.
It’s not impossible, as South Africa has never lost to Pakistan in the Champions Trophy, but form rather than history dictates matters on the field.
Neither team has much of it, as one side was outbowled and the other was outbatted. The outcome of today’s game at Edgbaston is very simple.
The loser will go home despite the permutations of the other matches as there is net run rate.
Captains Misbah-ul-Haq and AB de Villiers were the matadors who tried to save their teams.
They will need much more than their individual attentions to get past this one.
Key match-up:Hashim Amla vs Mohammad Irfan
Hashim Amla has been short of runs, and with the menacing Pakistan pace attack lurking, his runs will be required to shepherd South Africa, whether they chase or set.
As the sides will be playing on a fresh pitch, there will be something for the fast bowlers and there will be pace on offer, something Amla thrives on.
Irfan had an excellent ODI series in South Africa and they will know what the tallest fast bowler in the world is capable of.
Amla showed signs of getting to top form in his cameo against India, but South Africa will need more from him.
South Africa: Unless Dale Steyn recovers from a side strain, Highveld Lions all-rounder Chris Morris could be in line for his ODI debut. South Africa missed an enforcer against India, and with Pakistan frail against the short ball, he will be South Africa’s best bet.
Pakistan: They are short of batting stocks, but they have a clean bill of health.
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Colin Ingram, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers (C & WK), JP Duminy, Ryan McLaren, Robin Peterson, Chris Morris, Rory Kleinveldt, Lonwabo Tsotsobe
Pakistan: Nasir Jamshed, Imran Farhat, Mohammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Misbah-ul-Haq (c), Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal (WK), Wahab Riaz, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan
What the captains said:
“The form of the top order is very good; I just hope it will be a case of them applying themselves,” said Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq.
Proteas captain AB de Villiers on former president Nelson Mandela’s health: “We hope he gets to that big 100 in terms of birthdays and can still make a difference in our country in the next few years.”
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