Birmingham, June 6: Embarrassed by India in their opening match, Pakistan will strive to stay alive in the competition as they take on a confident South Africa in a must-win Group A ICC Champions Trophy match here tomorrow (June 7).
The two teams are approaching the encounter with contrasting results in their tournament openers. Pakistan received a severe 124-run hammering from India while South Africa outclassed Sri Lanka by 96 runs.
Another defeat will virtually knock Pakistan out of the tournament but it will be a humongous task for them to stop the Proteas, who are ranked number one in the ODI rankings.
Following the abject surrender by their batsmen against India, Pakistan batting line-up is under immense pressure to deliver. They found Indian pacers too hot to handle and South Africa too have a potent pace battery.
Led by young Kagiso Rabada and well complemented by seniors Morne Morkel and Wayne Parnell, South Africa have a strong attack. Pakistani batsmen drew flak from their past legends for their poor show against India and now have a point to prove.
South Africa have a fearsome top-order, led by ever- dependable Hashim Amla, who has scored runs in all formats of the game. Captain AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis man the top and middle order and Pakistan bowlers have a task at hand to stop them.
After failure against Sri Lanka, the skipper would look to get into the groove before the knockout stage begins. The way Chris Morris batted and bowled in the IPL, he showed he can destroy the opposition on his day and Pakistan have to be wary of the all-rounder.
Fast bowling has been their strength but losing Wahab Riaz is not something Pakistan would be amused with. They may lack players in the current set up who can instill fear in the minds of the opponents but Pakistan have the reputation of being an unpredictable side.
They may spring a surprise and disturb the calculations, which so far suggest that India and South Africa will move to the next stage of the tournament.
Pakistan: Sarfraz Khan (captain and wicketkeeper), Ahmed Shahzad, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Junaid Khan, Mohammed Amir, Mohammed Hafeez, Shadab Khan and Shoaib Malik.
South Africa: AB de Villiers (captain), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wicketkeeper), Jean-Paul Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Keshav Maharaj, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius and Kagiso Rabada.
Match starts 6 PM IST - LIVE on Star Sports
Thursday's match (June 8) - India Vs Sri Lanka - 3 PM IST