Pakistan face South Africa in the first of the day's Super Eights action and this should be a wonderful contest between two teams in excellent form. The South Africans would probably be favourites, coming as they are off a successful tour of England, but for the fact the spin-friendly subcontinent pitches are likely to duo of Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal.
Pakistan v South Africa
Coverage starts at 10.30 am BST on Sky Sports 2 and Sky Sports 2 HD. Free real-time updates will be available on ESPN Cricinfo.
The Proteas have had two very successful group games, against Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka. The defeat of the hosts, in particular, in a rain-shortened seven-over match, is indication enough of AB de Villiers' men's desire to win their first international title since the 1998 ICC Champions Trophy. Pakistan, meanwhile, were forced to work for their opening win, against New Zealand, and work hard again, for the two points against Bangladesh.
South Africa started the tournament in ruthless fashion, with their quick bowlers running through Zimbabwe's batting for only 93 runs. Jacques Kallis was particularly impressive - the veteran all-rounder picked up 4/15 from his four overs, while the very fast Dale Steyn returned miserly figures of 1/9 from his four. The Morkel brothers were also among the wickets in a match the South Africans won by 10 wickets. Openers Richard Levi and Hashim Amla hit an unbeaten 50 and 32 respectively; Amla effortlessly carrying over from his stunning innings with the bat in England.
de Villiers' men were scarcely less impressive against their hosts, although the match itself was severely hit by rain. The resultant seven-over-a-side shootout was South Africa's by 32 runs; the margin of the win was substantial, as were the innings of 30 from 13 balls by the captain and the return of 2/10 from two over by Steyn.
The core of South Africa's team will remain unchanged, with Levi, Amla, de Villiers, Kallis, Steyn, both Morkel brothers almost certain to take to the field. The rest of the squad can change, depending on the situation and the requirements... a true mark of a championship winning team. For the game against Pakistan, expect either Johan Botha or Robin Peterson in the side, to provide the option of a spinner to change the pace of the game but not both. The Pakistanis, like any subcontinent side, are proficient players of spin and their batting is already in formidable form. Steyn will be critical for this game; if he can rattle the openers out, then the Morkels and Kallis' ability to hold line and length and stifle scoring rates could turn the tide towards the African nation.
Pakistan, on the other hand, will be secretly confident of chasing down almost any score, given the strength of the top order. Openers Mohammad Hafeez (also the captain) and Imran Nazir have been in excellent form, opening with 47 and 124 in their two games so far. With Nasir Jamshed and Kamran Akmal coming in at No 3 and No 4, South Africa cannot give a single unnecessary run away.
The weak link for Hafeez must surely be with the ball. The fact Bangladesh managed to hit them for 175 in their match tells its own tale. Sohail Tanvir and Umar Gul have been expensive and wicket-less and apart from Ajmal's 4/30 in the first game and Yasir Arafat's 3/25 in the second, the other bowlers have failed to deliver, either in terms of wickets or keeping scoring rates down.
This is likely to be a high-scoring game. Both teams have a number of batsmen in fine form. The edge, obviously, will be with the ball and in the field. The South Africans are brilliant fielders... Tillakaratne Dilshan's run out in the game against Sri Lanka is a perfect example. In terms of bowling, where South Africa have the world's best strike bowler, the Pakistanis have one of the best spin combinations in this format of the game. But South Africa can counter with a back-up trio of reliable and proven medium pacers in good form.
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