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Battle of the greens: SA v/s PAK preview
As we get closer to the knockout stages of what’s been one hell of a run feast for the top sides, the mighty Proteas will be up against the unpredictable Pakistanis in an all important clash tomorrow. SA have virtually guaranteed themselves a place in the quarters but they’d be eager to keep the momentum going and push for the top spot in the group. Of course, for that to happen, India would have to lose one of their league matches and then the net run rate would come into play. Pakistan on the other hand, should consider this as a must win game for if they lose, they will be under tremendous pressure to win against Ireland, else in all probability take an early flight back home. That would be disastrous for a cricket frenzy nation with talent in abundance!
It doesn’t take a Nostradamus to predict who is the ultimate favourite to win tomorrow’s game. South Africa have dominated oppositions so far, except for that one meek surrender against India where everything seemed to have fallen in place for the Men in Blue. The good thing is that most batsmen in the top order have been among the runs which gives South Africa the luxury to persist with de Kock despite having looked all at sea so far in the tourney. Amla and de Villiers have looked in sublime touch and continue to be the mainstay of that formidable batting unit. The bowlers have faired well too. Steyn as always has been steaming in and continues to be a threat along with the dependable Morkel. I reckon SA won’t be rushing in the injured Philander while Abbott has done a decent job replacing him in the few opportunities he’s got. The big revelation though has been the form of Imran Tahir. Tahir’s never been a leggie who gives the ball too much air. However, it is his accuracy which has yielded him the desired results. He has a very good wrong’un and his quick arm action ensures that there’s a lot of deception there. If Pakistan have to do well, they will have to attack Tahir.
I am convinced for a fact that if Pakistan has to have any chance of winning tomorrow, it will have to be a combination of a lot of things going in their favour. But as they say when it’s your day, it is your day! To start with, irrespective of the pitch and the conditions in Auckland, Pakistan would have to get lucky with the toss and bat first. I strongly believe that batting order needs some serious shuffling too. Afridi and Umar Akmal just don’t have the temperament to finish games and are literally wasted down the order. Afridi, a veteran of 395 ODI matches with 8000 runs under his belt continues to bat just one way and more often than not departs quicker than a flash of lightning. To say he’s hasn’t done justice to his batting talent would be the biggest understatement! And if that wealth of experience hasn’t helped him have a more prudent approach to his batting, then nothing else would. Umar Akmal on the other end just doesn’t seem to figure out a way to stay at the crease long enough when he’s done most of the hard work. If I were the captain, I’d gamble with Afridi opening the batting with Nasir Jamshed and ask him to go hammer and tongs at the South Africans. Even if he stays at the crease for 10-15 overs, it would mean Pakistan have got off to a flyer! And more importantly, it’s the batsmen that follow who can feed off it where the rhythmic Steyn wnd Morkel would have reached the pinnacle of frustration. If Misbah can bat at 3 and allow Umar Akmal to come in at 4, we are now talking about some solidity in the top order. The likes of Maqsood and Haris Sohail can tonk the ball a long way which they have shown it in the past.

If the batsmen can somehow get them to a score of 275-300 with the likes of Irfan, Sohail Khan, Afridi and Wahab Riaz up their ranks, Pakistan does possess the bowling to put the Proteas under severe pressure. Much like India did where a few good overs at the start and a couple of breakthroughs means the scoreboard pressure starts mounting on the side chasing and history’s proven time and again that even the best can succumb to it!

So many things that Pakistan would have to do right here and hope that the South Africans have a mediocre day in the field. Common sense says South Africa should win convincingly but if there’s one team in this World Cup which could win you a million by betting a penny and with a fair degree of hope too, it has to be Pakistan. No matter what recent history might suggest, I reckon if Pakistan win the toss and elect to bat first, we’re in for a thrilling encounter tomorrow!
Here’s what I predict.
If Pakistan bat first and post a total of 275plus, they shall go to win the match.
If SA bat first, they shall beat Pakistan by a minimum margin of 75 runs.

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One Response to "Battle of the greens: SA v/s PAK preview"
  1. Devendra Powar
    Reply Devendra Powar March 7, 2015 08:40 am

    Thank you to those who’ve shown the patience to read this article. And I’m glad the match went pretty much as predicted. :)