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Improved Pakistan Look to Level Series as History Backs Hosts in Pink ODI

Cricketnext Staff |January 26, 2019, 10:32 PM IST
Improved Pakistan Look to Level Series as History Backs Hosts in Pink ODI

Pakistan find themselves in a do-or-die situation come the fourth ODI against hosts South Africa at Johannesburg, after a rain-curtailed match on Friday saw them go 2-1 down in the series.

After an impressive batting display, especially from Imam-ul-Haq who blasted his fifth ODI ton, the visitors could not produce an inspiring performance with the ball and lost the match by 13 runs (D/L method).

After scoring 317/6, Pakistan had reduced South Africa to 79/2 and had the match in their grip. But an untimely rain interruption, wayward bowling and a 108-run stand between Reeza Hendricks and Faf du Plessis took South Africa home with ease.

Despite the heart-breaking loss, Pakistan have shown signs of improvement in the batting department that will give belief to repeat their performance at the Wanderers, which is traditionally a great wicket for batting.

But the larger problem for the visitors lies in their poor bowling form coming into the fourth ODI. Over the last two matches, Pakistani bowlers have failed to bag wickets in key moments.

Be it the resistance of Rassie van der Dussen and Andile Phehlukwayo in the second ODI or stand between Hendricks and du Plessis, their bowling unit has not lived up to the expectations. There's also the fact that the Johannesburg match will the showpiece Pink ODI, meaning Sunday could be another long day in the office for the Pakistan team.

Ever since the inception of the annual game in 2013, South Africa have never lost an ODI in pink and boast of a 6-0 record. What could add to Pakistan’s woes is that South Africa’s average run-rate is a staggering 6.95 and Hashim Amla, who has already scored a ton in the series, averages 81 in these matches.

On the other hand, the hosts have a lot of positives coming into the penultimate game of the series, be it in the batting or bowling. While they have plenty of options in fast bowling, perhaps the only weak link could be spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, who could be replaced with veteran Imran Tahir.

South Africa will be hoping all departments can click together in Johannesburg and seal what has been a hard-fought series. With rain and thunderstorms predicted throughout the day, it could again be shortened match and could play a vital role in deciding the fate of the game - and the series.

South Africa: Faf du Plessis(c), Hashim Amla, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Quinton de Kock, David Miller, Beuran Hendricks, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Dale Steyn.

Pakistan: Sarfaraz Ahmed(c), Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali, Hussain Talat, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shan Masood, Shoaib Malik, Usman Khan.

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Cricket World Cup Points Table

5 4 0 1 9 +1.59
5 4 1 0 8 +1.86
5 4 1 0 8 +0.81
4 3 0 1 7 +1.02
5 2 2 1 5 -0.27
5 1 2 2 4 -1.77
5 1 3 1 3 +0.27
6 1 4 1 3 -0.19
5 1 3 1 3 -1.93
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Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 5720 124
2 India 5990 122
3 New Zealand 4121 114
4 South Africa 4647 111
5 Australia 4805 109
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
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