Pakistan seek return to T20 glory days vs Klaasen-led much-changed South Africa - GulfToday

Pakistan seek return to T20 glory days vs Klaasen-led much-changed South Africa

Pakistan-South Africa

Pakistan captain Babar Azam (left) and his South African counterpart Heinrich Klaasen pose for a picture with the T20 trophy at the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore on Wednesday. Agence France-Presse

Pakistan are hoping to turn their Twenty20 fortunes around when they take on a depleted South Africa in a three-match series starting in Lahore on Thursday.

The hosts have won just one of their last eight Twenty20 series, with victory coming against lowly Zimbabwe.

But they are seeking a return to the form that saw them win 11 series in a row from September 2016 to November 2018, lifting them to the top of the world rankings.

Pakistan’s spirits are riding high after beating South Africa by 95 runs in Rawalpindi on Monday to take the two-match Test series 2-0 — their first win over South Africa since 2003. South Africa will be without regular skipper Quinton de Kock, as well as established stars such as Faf du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi.

They returned home as scheduled after the second Test to prepare for a tour by Australia, but that has now been postponed because of the critical coronavirus situation in South Africa.

Still, Pakistan’s bowling coach Waqar Younis refused to take the new-look South Africa side lightly.

“They are an international team and we need to play to our potential to finish a perfect season,” he said.

Pakistan have left out senior batsman Mohammad Hafeez because of his commitments to the T-10 league in Abu Dhabi. He has been in supreme form recently, scoring 415 runs in 10 matches with an average of 83.00 and a strike rate of 152.57 — the most by any player last year.

KLAASEN LEADS NEW-LOOK PROTEAS: South Africa meanwhile will be hoping for a change in fortunes against Pakistan with the induction of some fresh faces as the two nations change gear to the Twenty20 format.

All three T20 internationals, which will be hosted at Lahore, come after Pakistan recorded a 2-0 sweep over the same opponents in Test action.

However, many names that played in the Proteas Test side will not be involved in the T20 matches, prominent among them being skipper Quinton de Kock.  Wicketkeeper-batsman Heinrich Klaasen has been called to take charge for the tourists, while Dwaine Pretorius, Lutho Sipamla, Tabraiz Shamsi and George Linde are the only members of the squad who have stayed on after Test duty.

South Africa’s stand-in captain though insists that while the visiting squad may be lacking in experience, those on the T20 roster are determined to seize the chances that have come their way during the tour.

“South Africa has got loads of talent, which people sometimes don’t see because we only have six franchises,” Klaasen said. “We are by no means a second-string T20 squad, and we are looking to win.”

Klaasen revealed he is now “fit and safe” after overcoming COVID-19, though it took a heavy toll on him physically. He put up an Instagram post during his recovery to make clear the effects of the virus, in which he wrote: “Covid is real and didn’t think it would be this hard to come back”.

“I am fit and I am safe -- and I can play cricket again,” he added.

“For the last three weeks, I have been able to train really hard in South Africa and now I am on course.”

The second and third matches of the series are on Saturday and Sunday.


Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Haider Ali, Khushdil Shah, Hussain Talat, Danish Aziz, Asif Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Zafar Gohar, Faheem Ashraf, Aamer Yamin, Amad Butt, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain, Hasan Ali, Usman Qadir, Zahid Mahmood

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 Rickelton, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lutho Sipamla, Jon-Jon Smuts, Pite van Biljon, Glenton Stuurman, Jacques Snyman

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