LAHORE (Dunya News) – After gaining two places in the ICC Test Team Rankings, Babar Azam’s men will aim to collect the four available T20I ranking points when they go head to head with South Africa in the three-match series at the Gaddafi Stadium on Thursday.
Pakistan are presently ranked fourth on the ICC T20I Rankings Table with 259 points, nine points behind India (268), while South Africa are fifth on 252 points. If Pakistan sweep the series, they will rise to 263 points, five points behind India, while South Africa will join New Zealand on 247 points but will be ranked below New Zealand on sixth points when the points are calculated beyond the decimal point.
The two sides will feature in a T20I series on Pakistan soil for the first time. Pakistan’s previous two home T20I series were played in the United Arab Emirates in 2010 and 2013, which were won by South Africa by an identical 2-0 margin.
In the six T20I series to date, the only time Pakistan has won a series was in South Africa in March 2013 when they won the Centurion match by 95 runs after the Durban T20I was washed out.
The series is part of Pakistan’s preparation for this year’s ICC T20 World Cup 2021. In the lead up to the 16-tournament, Pakistan will feature in, at least, 17 T20Is, including home T20Is against South Africa, New Zealand and England, while their away T20I engagements will be against South Africa, Zimbabwe, England and the West Indies.
For the series against South Africa, Pakistan will be without a few key players, including Fakhar Zaman (dropped), Imad Wasim (paternity leave), Imam-ul-Haq (dropped), Mohammad Hafeez (not available), Shadab Khan (injured) and Wahab Riaz (dropped).
This has open doors for domestic cricket performers such as Aamer Yamin, Amad Butt, Danish Aziz, Hussain Talat, Zafar Gohar and Zahid Mahmood, as well as relatively new international stars in Asif Ali, Haider Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Nawaz and Usman Qadir to grab the opportunity and cement their places in the side.
The star attraction of the series will once again be Babar Azam, the second-ranked T20I batsman in the world. Babar averages just under 51 in 44 matches, while at the Gaddafi Stadium, he averages 46 with 322 runs in nine matches.
Against South Africa, Babar has scored 151 runs in three T20Is with an average of 50.33 and strike-rate of 157.
However, Babar is still looking for his maiden T20I century and will be hoping to get his first in this series. In the 11 T20Is as captain, Babar has captained his side to victory in six matches, while two were abandoned.
The South African side will be captained by Heinrich Klaasen, who has featured in 13 T20Is for his country.
However, David Miller remains the only player with some experience of Pakistan conditions after he represented the ICC World XI against Pakistan at the Gaddafi Stadium in 2017. On that tour, he scored 41 runs in three matches with a highest of 32 in the final match.
Squads (to be selected from)
Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Aamer Yamin, Amad Butt, Asif Ali, Danish Aziz, Faheem Ashraf, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir, Zafar Gohar and Zahid Mehmood.
South Africa: Heinrich Klaasen (captain) Nandre Burger, Okuhle Cele, Junior Dala, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, George Linde, Janneman Malan, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Ryan Rickleton, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lutho Sipamla, Jon-Jon Smuts, Pite van Biljon, Glenton Stuurman and Jacques Snyman.
Umpire and match referee appointments
11 Feb – 1st T20I. Aleem Dar and Ahsan Raza (on-field umpires), Shozab Raza (third umpire), Asif Yaqoob (fourth umpire); Mohammad Javed Malik (match referee)
13 Feb – 2nd T20I. Shozab Raza and Asif Yaqoob (on-field umpires), Ahsan Raza (third umpire), Rashid Riaz (fourth umpire); Mohammad Javed Malik (match referee)
14 Feb – 3rd T20I. Aleem Dar and Rashid Riaz (on-field umpires), Ahsan Raza (third umpire), Shozab Raza (fourth umpire); Mohammad Javed Malik (match referee).
ICC’s interim playing regulations, which will be applicable to the upcoming series, are:
Ban on applying saliva to the ball: Players will not be permitted to use saliva to shine the ball. If a player does apply saliva to the ball, the umpires will manage the situation with some leniency during an initial period of adjustment for the players, but subsequent instances will result in the team receiving a warning.
A team can be issued up to two warnings per innings but repeated use of saliva on the ball will result in a five-run penalty to the batting side. Whenever saliva is applied to the ball, the umpires will be instructed to clean the ball before play recommences.
Additional DRS reviews: The CEC has also confirmed an additional unsuccessful DRS review for each team in each innings of a match, keeping in mind that there may be less experienced umpires on duty at times. This will increase the number of unsuccessful appeals per innings for each team to two for the white-ball formats.
The ICC Cricket Operations team will support Match Referees when processing Code of Conduct breaches and a neutral Elite Panel match referee will conduct any hearing remotely via video link.