Pakistan v South Africa: Who wins the battle of the under-achievers?

Faf du Plessis South Africa Cricket World Cup
South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis needs to head home with a win

As Pakistan hang by a thin thread, South Africa are on the plane home. Which team can lift themselves at Lord's to restore pride? James Buttler finds the best bets...

"Pakistan at 2.285/4 are interesting and have been the only one of these two sides to play a strong winning match, in Pakistan's case an impressive victory over England. In a game that could go either way it makes sense to take the bigger price."

Pakistan v South Africa
Sunday June 23, 10:30
Live on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event

Sorry Sarfaraz taking stick

Pakistan have had one day in the sun against England and, other than that, the black clouds have circled above them. That metaphorical meteorological state had had little to do with the vagaries of a British summer. The tournament is all but mathematically over for Sarfaraz Ahmed's side and it's all about restoring some pride for themselves as players and trying to soften the blow suffered by their fanatical fans.

Sarfaraz was heavily criticised after losing to fierce rivals India at Old Traffird. He won the toss and fielded - a move backed by most pundits. He yawned - that is often a reaction to severe anxiety. And he batted slowly - when trying to restore some respectability to a sorry team performance with the bat. It is not all down to one man.

On a positive note, Mohammad Amir has roared back to form with the ball. Thirteen wickets at 13.97 and an economy rate of less than five an over has made him one of the stars of the tournament. It's a shame for Pakistan that the next best bowler is Wahab Riaz with five wickets at 47.40.

With the bat, Babar Azam is a joy to watch and has scored more runs that any of his countrymen, but he's still learning his game at 24 and needs to find a way to bat bigger. Suggestions he should replace Sarfaraz as captain seem premature. He has to work on becoming more consistent and then he will become one of the best batsmen in the world. Haris Sohail looks set to return to the side and I always like his punchy middle-order contributions.

Faf must raise his troops to fight for pride

Even the hardest of hearts must have felt for Faf du Plessis during his press conference after the Proteas' most recent defeat to New Zealand. His team had given everything in their failed bid to win that thrilling game. Their faint hopes of the semi-finals were gone and the South African skipper looked deflated as he admitted he felt like he had aged five years. Maintaining morale in the squad over the next fornight will be a tough task.

With just one win against lowly Afghanistan from their six matches played they appear a spent force. Imran Tahir's leg-spin has been a rare plus as he has continued his Purple Cap winning IPL form with eight wickets, whilst Chis Morris has taken nine at an excellent economy rate of 4.72. Tahir has yet to be hit for a six in the World Cup and needs two more wickets to overtake Allan Donald as South Africa's leading wicket taker in World Cup history.

Imran Tahir South Africa.jpg

Pakistan the value play

South Africa lead the ODIs they have played against Pakistan by 50-27. They took the most recent series in January 3-2 in South Africa and start as 1.748/11 favourites for this Lord's match. But Pakistan at 2.285/4 are interesting and have been the only one of these two sides to play a strong winning match, in Pakistan's case an impressive victory over England. In a game that could go either way it makes sense to take the bigger price.

Rassie's runs a bright spot for Proteas

Rassie van der Dussen top-scored with an unbeaten 67 against New Zealand to record his second half-century of the World Cup (his sixth fifty in 12 ODIs). Van der Dussen has scored 180 runs in four innings and sits behind Quinton de Kock (191) at the top of the Proteas' run charts. It's van der Dussen at 13/2 that provides the most tempting value.

Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla have failed to contribute the runs their experience demands and must stand up if South Africa are to return home with anything positive from the tournament.

Man of The Match Markets are great fun

A trio of Pakistan stars appeal here and small stakes bets appeal on Imran Tahir, Babar Azam and Mohammad Amir


Follow James on Twitter @cricket_badger

James Buttler P/L CWC19

Units Staked 31.00
Units Returned 34.74
Profit/Loss: +3.74 units

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