Ed Hawkins previews the dead rubber from Centurion on Wednesday afternoon and finds a top-bowler bet…
“Pakistan have bowled poorly and they have chased poorly, twice getting themselves into positions which a team with their vaunted status should finish off”
South Africa v Pakistan
Wednesday 6 February, 16:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
South Africa to tinker
South Africa will be delighted that their reserve team have socked it to Pakistan. They have twice batted first against a strong visiting attack and twice set imposing totals. In the field they have been under pressure but have held their nerve.
Indeed, in game two they looked beaten for much of the chase. Pakistan were 147 for one chasing 189 but South Africa hit back to win by seven runs thanks to Andile Phehlukwayo, who took three wickets. Phehlukwayo is a serious all-rounder who enjoys the pressure. In consecutive games he has held his nerve with the ball to see South Africa home.
With the bat, Rassie van der Dussen and David Miler put their feet on the gas after a stodgy start. Miller's brutal 65 was probably the difference in the end.
The hosts are expected to tinker with their line-up. Phehlukwayo, for example, is expected to be rested with Wiaan Mulder coming in for debut. Remember there is no Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf Du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi or Dale Steyn.
Pakistan came into this series as the best team in the world after quietly, assuredly, putting together series win after series win. It is true they did their work under the radar somewhat so they will be desperately disappointed that in a high-profile contest, they have looked anything but world beaters.
They have bowled poorly and they have chased poorly, twice getting themselves into positions which a team with their vaunted status should finish off. Perhaps they're tired after a long tour.
Shoaib Malik, standing in as skipper for the banned Sarfaraz Ahmed, has had a stinker. He has guided both chases at the death and failed. It leaves one with the overall impression that this Pakistan side just don't have the batting depth.
Babar Azam is an exception. He has had a terrific campaign and blitzed brilliantly to get Pakistan to short odds at The Wanderers. There is justified criticism, though, that he left someone else to finish the job.
Pakistan will no doubt make changes. Usman Shinwari, the pacer, could lose his spot. Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali are in line to be the new ball bowlers with suggestions that Shaheen Shah Afridi will sit this one out.
Pitch holds up
There have been only four matches under lights at Centurion so there is no toss bias to be concerned about. The first-innings scores in those four matches (1-2 denote match won by team batting first or second, most recent first) read: 188-2/126-1/128-2/156-1. South Africa chased the 188 against India this time last year with eight balls to spare.
Visitors unbackable at odds
We would like to wager Pakistan to win this one because it is hard to believe that a team which has been so consistent for two years can lose three-zip. But odds are king here and there is no justification for the favourites tag. They are [1.90] with South Africa [2.10].
The only way we could envisage getting with the tourists at this stage would be if they batted first. We're not interested in their chasing ability after two disastrous efforts. When defending they have a win rate of 17 from their last 21.
Klaasen catches eye
Heinrich Klaasen top scored on this ground last time out with a brilliant 69 against India. The 8/1 that he repeats a top-bat effort is tempting indeed. For Pakistan, Babar Azam has been Mr Consistent and he copped for Hawk Eye at The Wanderers. Sportsbook go 16/5 and that's still a bet because he's got ten percentage points in our favour on the price. And little to beat with Fakhar Zaman struggling.
During the ODI series we made a point of calling out the selection of Mohammad Amir as bonkers because of his poor recent record. We can't do the same in T20, though. He is a dangerous bowler in this format and we should back him at 7/2 for top Pakistan bowler with Betfair Sportsbook. On career numbers he cops in line with a 15/8 shot. That gives us a terrific edge. Shaheen Shah Afridi is a danger at 3s because he is more like 5/2 but the rest of the crew are all far too short in comparison to how many times they actually win. Shadab Khan and Hasan Ali, joint jollies at 11/4, are more like 5/1 and 9/2 respectively.
In the last 12 months Amir has a strike rate of just 12. Next best is Afridi with 15. It would be hugely useful if Afridi wasn't picked. Likewise Usman Shinwari who is a coming force despite a nightmare game last time.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l