SA on top despite Razzaq blitz

Published: Tuesday, November 2, 2010, 13:37 [IST]
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SA on top despite Razzaq blitz

Pakistan's victories are usually extraordinary. One either sees a batting bolt from the blue or a mind-numbing spell of bowling. On Sunday, we saw the former from Abdul Razzaq's fiery willow. But in the consistency department, Pakistan leave much to be desired and therefore don't win as much as they should.

That's precisely where South Africa score over their opponents. The Proteas track record is much healthier because like well-oiled machine, they keep the victories coming. They have notched up 10 wins from their previous 11 ODI matches and are renowned for running long winning streaks, sometimes broken by a single defeat.

So as the series shifts to Dubai, South Africa undoubtedly hold the edge over Pakistan. They can rely on a good start from Hashim Amla and some hefty contributions down the order, especially from an ever-stable middle order. Pakistan's batsmen are more likely to implode early on and then rely on sheer miracles from a couple of batsmen to take them over the line. Without doubt, Pakistan will have to be at the top of their game, an eventuality hard to bank on after being given a lease of life from Razzak alone. Their batsmen will have to match the South Africans shot for shot and the bowlers will have to bowl their tightest line ever.

Among the key-men for Pakistan stands Misbah-ul-Haq. The middle order batsman has only made 31 runs in the first two ODIs and is due for some runs. A steady innings from him will be crucial if Pakistan are to find some substance from the middle overs. Another man to watch out for is the captain Shahid Afridi. His leg-spinners have ensnared 2 for 38 and 6 for 38 in ODI matches against Australia at Dubai.

Colin Ingram's century may have been overshadowed by Razzaq's in the previous match, but that doesn't take away from the fact that he stood at the core of South Africa's commanding 286 for 8. His deft strokeplay and ability to shirk off the pressure held the innings together and demoralised Pakistan's bowlers. Incidentally Ingram has an average of 85 with a strike-rate of 94 after five ODIs.

It will be interesting to see whether Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis will make a return to the side after sitting out the second one-dayer. Smith received a suspect fracture from his first match, while Kallis contracted severe cramps. It's testimant to a side's capability when even without two of their veterans, it is still able to take on a challenge head on.


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