Pakistan will have gained some much needed confidence out of its win in its Second Twenty20 International against South Africa but one would have to be very brave to say that the brittle Pakistanis have turned the corner for good.
A 102-run partnership between Mohammad Hafeez and Umar Akmal helped Pakistan to score 176 runs in its 20 overs at Cape Town’s Newlands. The chase proved beyond South Africa, the Proteas falling seven runs short of their target. Pakistan players have spoken about how their team simply had to win the Second Twenty20 International because morale within their camp had fallen to alarmingly low levels. But one decent effort with the bat does not hide all the cracks.
Pakistan’s batsmen are consistently inconsistent so one cannot bank on Hafeez and/or Akmal stringing together two good innings. A couple of entertaining half centuries does not disguise the fact that Pakistan has failed to register competitive scores in the vast majority of its recent limited-overs matches. And nothing seen in either Twenty20 International on South African soil suggests that Pakistan has a bowling attack to skittle the Proteas cheaply.
South Africa star Jacques Kallis is set to play his first One Day International game in 21 months as he tries to convince officials that he should be in the Proteas party for the 2015 ICC World Cup. With Kallis making himself available again, South Africa has the opportunity to field its strongest possible One Day International side and see how those 11 players gel. South Africa has won each of its last three One Day International matches versus Pakistan, with the Proteas holding an 8-3 lead over the Pakistanis this year. Now South Africa has the chance to select its best team in 2013, whereas Pakistan cannot be at full strength without Mohammed Irfan and several others.
Ladbrokes are offering odds of 1.50 that South Africa takes an early lead in its One Day International series against Pakistan. Perhaps the greatest threat to South Africa is not Pakistan but a social engagement 24 hours before the Cape Town clash. South Africa Twenty20 International captain Faf du Plessis is getting married, with many of his Proteas teammates attending the wedding, including best man AB de Villiers. Du Plessis is not a member of South Africa’s One Day International squad but obviously the timing of his nuptials is far from ideal.
Pakistan’s anaemic bowling attack – Irfan was head and shoulders above his compatriots when the Pakistanis toured South Africa earlier this year so his absence is really hurting the away side – helped land a couple of good top Proteas batsman bets in the Twenty20 International series, with dutched wagers on Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock paying off in both Johannesburg and Cape Town.
One should look to back South Africa’s openers in the top Proteas batsman market for the First One Day International because bookmakers are underestimating the probability of at least one of them filling their boots and making it almost impossible for their colleagues down the order to overtake them. Amla is a certain starter and he is available at odds of 4.00 with Coral. South Africa is toying with the idea of recalling Graeme Smith at the expense of De Kock, although the odds favour the Proteas sticking with the latter. Both Smith and De Kock are trading at odds of 5.00 BetVictor so the mathematics are the same regardless of which one of them plays. Dutching Amla and either Smith or De Kock produces a two-pronged top South Africa batsman bet at odds of slightly higher than 2.22.