The 1st Pakistan v/s South Africa T20 international game played at Centurion Park confirmed every Proteas fan’s worst fears. A team virtually unrecognizable from the dominant test side showed up once again, with a new captain and limited over specialists.
For everything that coach Gary Kirsten has instilled in the two sides that he has taken over in his career (Team India, South Africa), and for all the test wins and no. 1 rankings- there is one code that remains a mystery to him. In his time with India, not once did the team reach the last 4 of the T20 World Cup- consistently flattering to deceive in the league stages. And last year, South Africa finished bottom of their super 8 group, thus proving that T20 cricket is not exactly their greatest strength yet. Along with Australia, they are yet to crack this mysterious format of cricket- feeling much more at home as a match progresses beyond 40 overs.
Mohammad and the 7 Dwarfs
Pakistan, on the contrary, remain one of the best T20 sides in the world along with West Indies and Sri Lanka. On their day (Sunday in this case), they can demolish every single team in world cricket- including themselves. Captain Hafeez came out all guns blazing with his young team, playing a spectacular innings of 86 to take his side to a gigantic score of 195. For the South Africans, the only players retained from the test squad were AB De Villiers, Faff Du Plessis (Captain), Peterson and, technically, Abbott. They are one of the few teams that field different limited over sides, clearly believing in the horses-for-courses trend more than subcontinent teams. Peterson and Ontong went for almost 60 runs in their combined 4 overs- setting the stage for their own batters led by De Villiers to try and chase down their highest target.
In response, South Africa fell to their lowest total in T20s. They were bowled out in 74 balls, for 100 runs- a far cry from their close to perfect performance in the test series while whitewashing Pakistan.
Lone Ranger AB
As we head into the second T20 match at the same ground between these teams, it will be difficult for South Africa to believe that they are favorites for the rest of Pakistan’s Tour of South Africa 2013. A single win will have to be a one-man effort, for South Africa clearly lack the quality and experience needed to pull off a series victory against a formidable Pakistan bowling attack.
Pakistan will try to salvage a lot of pride and respect before they face South Africa on ‘home soil’ (in UAE) again later this year.