Don’t rule out depleted hosts



South Africa v Pakistan
Wednesday 7 April 08.00
TV: live on BT Sport

Player drain

South Africa are level at 1-1 thanks to a twin display of brawn and brain in Johannesburg. Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller found their range with the bat while Quinton de Kock stole the headlines for a borderline cheeky run out of Fakhar Zaman.

As clever as South Africa no doubt feel, a reality check might be in the offing. Their best players have left for the IPL – De Kock, Miller, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje.

A player here or there shouldn’t make much of a difference but your former skipper, middle-overs enforcer and elite pace group? For a national team struggling with talent depth they are up against it.

Junior Dala, Beuran Hendricks and Lutho Sipamla are likely to replace the pace trio. Janneman Malan should replace De Kock with Kyle Verreynne and JJ Smuts vying to take Miller’s slot

Possible XI Markram, Malan, Bavuma, Van Der Dussen, Klaasen, Verreyenne, Phehlukwayo, Dala, Hendricks, Sipamla, Shamsi

Pakistan play fast and loose

Had Pakistan been able to find a partner for Fakhar they would probably be putting their feet up with the series done and dusted. Instead, Fakhar’s brilliant 193 was wasted. Only Babar Azam made it past 20 as Pakistan fell 24 runs short of 342.

We expect changes to the XI. Asif Ali continues to disappoint and it may be time to give Haider Ali a run in the lower-order hitter role. Shadab Khan is injured with fellow spin all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz the most likely replacement.

Against a less-experienced batting line-up, could it be the time for Pakistan to play mystery spinner Usman Qadir?

Possible XI Imam, Fakhar, Babar, Rizwan, Aziz, Haider, Nawaz, Faheem, Afridi, Hasnain, Rauf

Pitch report

Back to Centurion where South Africa’s 273 for six was chased with ease by Pakistan in game one. The first-innings scores in the last ten ODI (1-2 denote match won by team batting first or second) read: 273-2/251-1/317-2/204-2/118-2/384-1/294-2/318-2/304-1/361-1.

From those numbers the side batting first are under pressure to breach 300 – and then some. As we said before game two, South Africa’s mindset in the recent past has not been that of a team who are ready to go hard. They remedied that, though. Now they have to do it with a new batting line-up and against one of the tightest bowling units.

Both teams to score 260 at 4/5 and 270 at even money may be of interest with Sportsbook. Forecast thunderstorms, however, muddy the waters.

South Africa can hold their own

Pakistan have won only one ODI series in South Africa. They have a fantastic opportunity to make it two with the hosts depleted.

Unsurprisingly, the match odds market recognises the talent drain and Pakistan are favourites at 1.834/5. South Africa are 2.186/5. Betting Pakistan at odds-on would be to breach a golden rule.

The key question is: how talented are South Africa’s new blood? Well, in Malan they have a batter with an exceptional record domestically. He already has an ODI ton after only three games. Hendricks is an out-and-out wicket-taker while Sipamla has a bright future. There is enough there to reckon that the 2.186/5 can be 1.705/7 batting first so a trade is a solid option.

Tops value

Malan gets a 7/2 quote from Sportsbook for top South Africa bat. He is also 5/6 for over 26.5 runs. Hendricks looks toppy at 4s for top bowler.

Babar Azam has been price-boosted to 12/5 for highest Pakistan bat but it’s not big enough on win rate. Imam-ul-Haq has a ton on this ground and a half-century this series so the 7/2 has some appeal.

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