Pakistan will face a tough challenge when they go up against the No.1 ranked South Africa in their opening Super 8s encounter. The Proteas who were undefeated in the league stage with convincing wins over Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka, will be looking to extend their winning momentum while Pakistan too will be looking to do the same, having entered the Super 8s with wins over New Zealand and Bangladesh.
Head to head: South Africa have played against Pakistan in 5 Twenty20 Internationals. The Proteas have emerged victorious on 3 occasions while ending up on the losing side two times. However, Pakistan have the upper hand over South Africa in World T20s, with both their wins against Proteas coming in the 20 over World Cup.
South Africa: If a team is placed at the top of the rankings, it has to do for the fact that it possesses a quality line up, studded with match winners, which is the case with the South Africans. If Richard Levi can go out on an all-blaze mode, South Africa have a level-headed Hashim Amla at the top to control the innings. The middle order consists of fine players like AB de Villiers and JP Duminy who are proven performers while an all-rounder of the calibre of Jacques Kallis is always someone who the opposition will dread. There's also Albie Morkel, who is effective with both the bat and the ball while Faf du Plessis can also contribute his bit. The world class pace attack that South Africa have, with the presence of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, gives South Africa all the more advantage. All South Africa need and what skipper de Villiers will be asking is for his players to stick to their jobs.
Current form: Most of the South African players are in good touch going by what was seen in their matches so far. The Proteas got their World T20 campaign off to a splendid start with a thumping win over Zimbabwe before they defeated the hosts in a rain-curtailed match to gain a flawless entry into the Super 8s. Kallis was brilliant with the ball in the first game while the Levi and Amla came good with the bat in the same game. Against Sri Lanka, the Proteas posted a formidable total despite having just 7 overs and it was possible due to the efforts of de Villiers and Amla, while Duminy also came good towards the end. In the same game, the bowlers show-cased their quality with Steyn and the Morkels being amongst the wickets to restrict the Lankans. The same kind of performance can be expected from the Proteas although, going up against a quality side like Pakistan can be a challenging proposition.
Pakistan: While the South African team is made up of numerous quality players, Pakistan are no less in terms of talent in the line up. The likes of Imran Nazir, Nasir Jamshed and Umar Akmal have shown that they can be valuable assets with the bat while Asad Shafiq and Kamran Akmal are also quite capable with the bat. Quality all-rounders too are aplenty in the Pakistan side with skipper Mohammad Hafeez leading that way while the presence of Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq and Yasir Arafat gives the captain a lot of options. The pace line-up of Pakistan is also quite impressive with the likes of Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir and Mohammad Sami. If all these players live up to their reputation, overcoming South Africa will not seem as tough as it seems.
Current form: Pakistan made it undefeated to the Super 8s stage but not before a couple of scares. The managed to overcome New Zealand by a narrow margin in their opening match. In their next match, they faced quite a bit of challenge when Bangladesh posted an imposing total. But Pakistan managed to get through comfortably in the end thanks to the efforts of the top three - Hafeez, Nazir and Jamshed - who were also responsible for the team to post a good total against the Kiwis. What will worry Pakistan though is that the lower order did not quite click against New Zealand while the pace bowlers have not been doing all that well. While the spinners have kept down the scoring rate, Gul and Tanvir both going for a lot of runs has been a bother for the Asian side. Hafeez will be hoping that they stick to a disciplined line and also expect the batsman to concentrate 100 percent as going up against a top-quality side side requires all the players to bring out their best game.
Saeed Ajmal, we've discussed. The guys have worked hard over their skills against spin not just over the last couple of days but over the last couple of weeks. Spin is going to be an important factor at this stage of the competition: South Africa assistant coach Russell Domingo
Pakistan (From): Mohammad Hafeez(c), Imran Nazir, Nasir Jamshed, Kamran Akmal(w), Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Yasir Arafat, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Asad Shafiq, Abdul Razzaq, Mohammad Sami, Raza Hasan
South Africa (From): Richard Levi, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers(w/c), Jean-Paul Duminy, Albie Morkel, Farhaan Behardien, Jacques Kallis, Johan Botha, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Justin Ontong, Robin Peterson, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Wayne Parnell