Ed Hawkins fears the weather could wash South Africa away to a historic defeat in Benoni on Sunday in the series decider...
Beaten by New Zealand in their previous series, South Africa are in danger of losing back-to-back home two-team series for the first time. They were shoddy with the willow in the fourth one-day international in Durban and have lacked consistency at the key time. We expect them to remain unchanged but there are possible tweaks we should be aware of. Kyle Abbott could replace Rory Kleinveldt in the bowling department while Quinton de Kock may usurp Farhaan Berhardien, or possibly Graeme Smith who has been useless, averaging 13.
It is Pakistan's bowling which has kept them in this series. Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan and Wahab Riaz were superb in Durban and the tourists will hope for more of the same. Irfan and Junaid took three wickets each while Wahab was miserly, conceding 16 runs off four overs. Because he bowled only a short spell, however, we have to wonder whether he is an injury doubt. Umar Gul could replace him but he has been struggling with a niggle himself. Sohail Tanvir, the left-armer, would be a more than useful addition, however. Imran Farhat replaced Nasir Jamshed last time and it was a fine call. We have been waiting all tour for a score from Jamshed to no avail. Farhat responded with 93 from 144 balls.
Willowmore Park is not one of the most recognised international venues but it has hosted 10 ODIs since 2006 so we are grateful for a solid study period. The ground was redeveloped into a world-class facility and extra pitches were laid to improve consistency. It has been rewarded with plenty of action. The last ten first-innings scores read: 399-295-295-252-220-358-91-223-178-196. That is an average of 251 but it has been consistently high-scoring over the last five matches. However, the weather forecast is not good so it would be folly to start wading in. A reduced-overs affair looks likely with thunderstorms expected.
A bit of respect in the market for Pakistan. Not much, but a little. They are into 2.506/4 from 2.6613/8 in the fourth match in Durban which they won by three wickets to level the series at 2-2. South Africa are 1.645/8. As we have said before we don't play at such odds, particularly on a side which has lost four of its last seven at home. Indeed, when there is rain around we get decidely grumpy about skinny favs. Pakistan are the obvious choice, particularly in a back-to-lay which has done us proud this series. But wait until the toss. If Pakistan get to field first then they will be stonking value as it is largely recognised that if the side batting first are interrupted by the weather, it favours the chasers. There is toss bias, too. Only six side batting first have won in 17 attempts.
Top South Africa runscorer
AB De Villiers hit a 99-ball century in the last match at Benoni. That the opposition was Zimbabwe may weaken his case for a repeat. He did score an impressive 75 in Durban as he and David Miller (67) managed a salvage job. De Villiers may go off at around 4.507/2 and Miller 6.005/1.
Top Pakistan batsman
Farhat will be a popular pick on here after his heroics last time. So too will Misbah-ul-Haq, the captain. If Farhat was the anchor, Misbah was the speed boat, hitting 80 from 93 balls.
Back-to-lay Pakistan at 2.506/4