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The Hindu
The Hindu
S. Dipak Ragav

Cricket World Cup 2023 | Pakistan in a must-win situation against an in-form South Africa

 Ever since going down to India a fortnight ago, Pakistan’s campaign has nosedived and its hopes of reaching the last four now rest on a wing and a prayer.

Ahead of the side’s World Cup match against South Africa at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Friday, the contrast between the two teams couldn’t have been more stark.

With three consecutive defeats, Pakistan may need to win at least three of its remaining fixtures, if not all four.

The team has to quickly fix many gaping holes from a misfiring pace attack, ineffective spinners and poor fielding.

The only positive has been its batting unit with Mohammad Rizwan, Abdullah Shafique and skipper Babar Azam being the team’s consistent performers.

Even in the last game against Afghanistan, the batters posted 282 — usually a good score at Chepauk — though the skipper felt the team was about 20 runs short.

Bat with freedom

A way forward for the former champion will be to bat with freedom, out-bat the opposition, and put pressure on South Africa.

Meanwhile, the Proteas come into the game in red-hot form powered by its marauding batters, who have made a mockery of the opposition’s bowlers, posting four totals above 300, including the highest of the tournament — 428 against Sri Lanka.

Opener Quinton de Kock has set things up for South Africa, giving a steady start with three hundreds to his name, while Heinrich Klaasen has provided the final flourish with a masterclass in power-hitting.

A possible area of concern, though, will be that the team’s wins have come while successfully defending totals, and in the one game it was chasing, it stumbled against The Netherlands.

There could also be a few changes with skipper Temba Bavuma having recovered from an illness and pacer Lungi Ngidi set to return.

Left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi is also in contention in place of a fast bowler.

With four victories in the bag, South Africa will look to continue its winning form against a misfiring Pakistan and inch closer to a semifinal berth.

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