Home / Sports / T20 World Cup: Consistency test for Pakistan, West Indies look to bounce back versus South Africa

T20 World Cup: Consistency test for Pakistan, West Indies look to bounce back versus South Africa

After an emphatic win over arch-rivals India, Babar Azam and team will look to maintain their winning run, while Kieron Pollard's men will look to find their mojo back
Babar Azam and Mohd Rizwan.
Babar Azam and Mohd Rizwan.
File Photo.

Our Bureau   |   Published 26.10.21, 12:56 PM

Pakistan are on cloud nine after beating arch-rivals India in their opening match. Tonight will be a test of consistency and character for Babar Azam and team when they take on World Test Championship winners New Zealand. In the other fixture, defending champions West Indies will look to put some runs on the board against South Africa after a dismal opener versus England.

Let's take a look at what's in store tonight:


West Indies vs South Africa -- 3:30pm
Venue: Dubai International Stadium

While South Africa were handed a five-wicket defeat by Australia, West Indies sank to six-wicket loss against England on Saturday. It will be imperative that both sides improve upon their batting as they seek to register their first points in the group.

Put in to bat, both sides struggled to put runs on the board. West Indies were skittled for just 55 runs while the Proteas were a touch better, managing 118 in 20 overs thanks to Aiden Makram's 36-ball 40.

South Africa's problem in recent games was one again on display in their opening clash. Playing with a top-heavy side, they were unable to overcome the loss of early wickets. While Markram held on to his wicket at the other end, the Proteas twice lost wickets in clusters of three. David Miller's woeful form and the inexperienced middle order didn't help their case either.

However, armed with world class bowlers, South Africa got most things right with the ball, making the run-chase tight. Pacers Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje bowled fiery opening spells before the spin duo World No.1 bowler Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj restricted runs in the middle over.

In the game against England, the spinners were the undoing of West Indies and the Proteas will count on Shamsi and and Maharaj to do the trick for them.

South Africa will head into the clash with the psychology advantage, having inflicted a series defeat on the West Indies at home earlier this year.

West Indies, on the other hand, will have to regroup fast after their disastrous campaign opener. The two-time champions will have to rethink their batting approach against South Africa. Besides veteran Chris Gayle, none of the players managed to reach double digit scores.

West Indies were guilty of losing nine of their 10 wickets while trying to hit a four or a six. None of the players attempted to rebuild the innings after early strikes. They seemed to have forgotten that rotating the strike was important when boundaries were difficult to come by.

However, their batting line-up is studded with proven match-winners who can take away the game at any given point.

Their bowling department did well to make the run chase as difficult as possible while the fielding was also top-notch. If West Indies had a better total, they'd have been in the game.

The Squads:

West Indies: Kieron Pollard (c), Nicholas Pooran, Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Roston Chase, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Lendl Simmons, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr.

South Africa: Temba Bavuma (c), Keshav Maharaj, Quinton de Kock (wk), Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, David Miller, W Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen.

Pakistan vs New Zealand -- 7:30pm
Venue: Sharjah

Babar Azam and his men will have "revenge" on their mind for a recent off-field snub when they take on New Zealand in the T20 World Cup on Tuesday, looking to build on the historic high of beating arch-rivals India in their tournament opener.

For a lot of Pakistani fans, the team may have already won the World Cup by ending its 29-year-old World Cup jinx against India but the Babar Azam-led team has already shown the hunger for going all the way.

After the 10-wicket rout of India, Pakistan are fully capable of doing a Pakistan and self-destructing against the Black Caps, something that Babar discussed with his players in the dressing room after the win on Sunday night.

"We have not just come here to win against India, we have come here to win the World Cup, always remember that," Babar said after the match, fully aware that excess celebrations would only disturb focus.

Former Pakistan captains too have cautioned the players against extended celebrations as the team needs to do a lot more to make the semifinals.

Babar's team would be eyeing another big scalp in New Zealand, the team which recently withdrew from a scheduled series against Pakistan after landing there, citing a security threat which, according to the host country, did not exist.

The pullout hampered Pakistan's World Cup preparations which took a further hit with England too withdrawing from the tour.

Babar had hardly minced words in criticising the two sides saying that his country has "always tried to accommodate the interests of the game but others simply don't."

Tuesday's game is being perceived by Pakistan's cricket community as an opportunity for the team to extract revenge for the damage that New Zealand caused by going back without playing.

Despite a difficult month, which also saw changes in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) administration, the team seemed like a well-oiled machine against India, not putting a foot wrong in a performance that was stunning to many.

Their batting, though not yet tested fully, seems to have the firepower with Babar and Mohammad Rizwan doing a sensational job at the top.

With seasoned pros like Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hazeef and Shoaib Malik making the middle order, it is safe to assume that New Zealand's bowlers have a task at hand.

They also have a lot of options in the bowling department, be it pace or spin. Pakistan used seven bowlers against India and veteran Malik wasn't even one of them.

He didn't need to be used as the spin troika of Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan and Hafeez kept things tight.

Shaheen Shah Afridi was sensational with the new ball and New Zealand openers will have to watch out for his fast in-swinging yorkers.

Haris Rauf, another pacer who bowls in the range of 145-150kmph, showed he will be difficult to hit in the death overs.

New Zealand have not had the best of build-ups to their campaign, having lost to Australia and England in the warm-ups.

One of their main concerns is the fitness of skipper Kane Williamson, who is battling with elbow pain for a while now and head coach Gary Stead said the injury had flared up a bit in the game against Australia.

Williamson did not bat against England.

The Black Caps have a world-class bowing attack but their batters need to step up.

Despite the many concerns, they have a consistent record in ICC events and one can't rule them out for a place in the final four.

As the Sri Lanka-Bangladesh match suggested, the Sharjah pitch is changing its slow and low nature which was seen in the IPL and one can expect a good batting surface for game on Tuesday evening.

The Squads:

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Kyle Jamieson, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee.

Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammed Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammed Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Hasan Ali, Harris Rauf, Shaeen Shah Afridi, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohamed Nawaz, Asif Ali, Haider Ali, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Mohammed Wasim, Sohaib Maqsood.

(With PTI inputs)

Copyright © 2020 The Telegraph. All rights reserved.