Pakistan, South Africa gear up for 2nd T20 amid rain threat
Match: South Africa v Pakistan, 2nd T20 (2 match series)
Series: (0-0) 1st Match abandoned due to rain.
Venue: SuperSport Park, Centurion, South Africa.
Date & Time: 3rd March, 2013, 17:30 PST / 12:30 GMT
Overall Rivalry: Dead Even; South Africa 3 wins, Pakistan 3 wins
Weather Report: Partly cloudy with thunderstorms in the afternoon. High of 26C with winds less than 5 km/h. 70% chances of rain.
Ground Report: Three out of a total of four T20 innings have witnessed a score of over 150 at the SuperSport Park, including South Africa smashing England for 241 runs. The pitch should have pace but the batsmen will enjoy consistent bounce unless rain leaves the square under-prepared. Pakistan was recently hammered to an innings defeat in the 3rd and final Test match at this venue and the wounds from it may still be fresh.
Game On: With one game abandoned out of two, 40 overs will decide the fate of this T20 series. It will be followed by five ODIS to complete the summer of international cricket in South Africa.
The Proteas are scheduled to only play another six confirmed T20 games in 2013 and Pakistan only another five in the same duration. In contrast, during this year, they could possibly play up to 22 and 20 ODIS respectively.
Additionally, they will also participate in the last edition of the Champions Trophy which will be discontinued after 2013 in an effort to eliminate multiple ICC tournaments for the same format; the World Cup will remain the only 50 over ICC competition.
There has been a gradual decline in the following of 50-over cricket which has been accelerated by the advent and boom of the T20 format. The ICC has tried their best to refuel audience interest by making regular cosmetic changes in laws; the power-play and the use of two new balls are examples amongst others. However, recent numbers indicate a further decline of the 50-over game and an ever increasing viewership for the shorter format.
Even with a clear signal of consumer demand shifting towards T20s, the ICC continues to prioritise ODI cricket in its scheduling policy. While ICC’s concern of the decline of their biggest money maker is genuine, they should not get carried away by plucking into their traditional golden goose.
Domestic T20 league cricket is playing its own part in the evolution of the sport and how their dynamics further impact the game will considerably shape the future of international cricket.
A single game this series will mean that Faf du Plessis and Mohammed Hafeez will get only one chance to exhibit their leadership skills. Some of the players who have especially flown in from Pakistan for the two games might not get a go and T20 specialists representing South Africa might also have to wait for their day at international stage.
Durban was sold out on Friday but rain ruined the day for everyone at the stadium. Rain permitting, SuperSport Park should also have a full-house crowd and with two evenly matched teams it could be a thrilling encounter.
Game Changer: Rain poured for consecutive days in Durban to completely wash out the first game and similar clouds have been hovering over Centurion. Spectators will hope for the sun to shine bright and high on a Sunday afternoon but the weather might spoil their party.
Pre-Game Talk: “We just feel AB is one of the best batsmen in the world that on his day can score a century in this format. There aren’t a lot of guys that can do that.” Captain Faf du Plessis admires the talent of AB de Villiers.
“Afridi, Kamran, Umar, Wahab are experienced players and the rest are good players in the shorter format. I also think they will bring new energy and zest to the team in South Africa. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pakistan beat South Africa in both formats now.” Javed Miandad shows faith in Pakistani players.
Last XI Fielded South Africans: Henry Davids, Faf du Plessis (Capt), Quinton de Kock (wk), Justin Ontong, David Miller, Farhaan Behardien, Rory Kleinveldt, Robin Peterson, Ryan McLaren, Aaron Phangiso, Morne Morkel
Last XI Fielded Pakistanis: Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez (capt), Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal (wk), Shoaib Malik, Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan.
South Africa: Kyle Abbott took 9 wickets on his test debut at the same venue last week and should replace Morne Morkel while AB de Villiers will take his place behind the stumps instead of Quinton de Kock and is also expected to open the innings.
Pakistan: Junaid Khan or Wahab Riaz will replace Sohail Tanvir who has not been picked for this series.
Final Words: ICC’s stance on scheduling can be a part of its meticulously planned long term strategy but is bordering on resistance to change. To find equilibrium, sooner or later, they will need a more even distribution between its limited over formats. i.e. more T20s and less ODIs than currently allocated.