LAHORE: Babar Azam-led squad would be hoping to continue the winning momentum from the Test series when they take on South Africa in the first T20 at the Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium today.
The Green Shirts will also aim to collect the four available T20I ranking points ahead of T20 World Cup.
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 sweeps 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.
What will Pakistan do?
For Pakistan too, there will be some notable omissions. Mohammad Hafeez has been left out, so has been Shadab Khan, who captained the side in the T20Is against New Zealand. They have four uncapped options available – left-arm spinner Zafar Gohar, all-rounder Danish Aziz, leg-spinner Zahid Mehmood and bowling all-rounder Amad Butt.
They will also be boosted by the presence of Hasan Ali, who was recalled for the T20Is. Hasan was brilliant in the Test series, picking up a 10-wicket haul in the second match.
Pakistan are expecting the same performance that the team showed in Test series.
Talking to media earlier, Pakistan’s bowling coach Waqar Younis said, “the result of the Test series will have an impact on the T20I series. I can’t predict the ultimate result of the T20 series, but you will definitely see good results.”
Options for South Africa
The visitors will be without most of their regular players with wicketkeeper-batsman Heinrich Klaasen leading the side. Only four players from the Test squad will be featuring in the T20I one. They have three uncapped players on their list – fast bowler Okuhle Cele, wicketkeeper-batsman Ryan Rickelton and batsman Jacques Snyman.
The series provides them a good opportunity to build a solid bench keeping the T20 World Cup in mind.
However, the skipper is confident that they are in a good position to give tough time to the home time and rubbished the perception about being “a second-string T20 squad”.
“We are looking to win. South Africa has got loads of talent, which people sometimes don’t see because we only have six franchises,” Heinrich Klassen said.
The last time, Pakistan played South Africa in a bilateral T20I series was back in 2018/19. It was South Africa’s home series and they won it 2-1. But with a depleted side this time around, the visitors will face a tough task against a strong Pakistan outfit.
Also, South Africa have won only two of their last nine T20Is. In contrast, Pakistan, who have a better record, winning seven out of their last 10 completed T20Is.
Heinrich Klaasen (C), 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, Jacques Snyman
Forms in the last 3 matches (Oldest to latest): Lost, Lost and Lost
Pakistan Full Squad
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 Afridi, Usman Qadir, Zafar Gohar, Zahid Mehmood