Ed Hawkins previews the Sky-televised game three from Centurion on Wednesday and finds two top batsman bets at value prices
"Sportsbook go 9/2 Hafeez this time and we should keep the faith with a guy who has four wins in 12 in the last two years"
South Africa v Pakistan
Wednesday 12 April 13.30
TV: live on Sky Sports
Strong from Saffers
South Africa's second XI levelled the series at 1-1 with two to play with a superb all-round performance in Johannesburg on Sunday.
They strolled to a six-wicket success thanks to a tight bowling display on what has been a flat wicket. George Linde, the all-rounder, and Lizaad Williams, took three wickets apiece. Who needs Rabada, Nortje and Ngidi?
A word, too on Sisanda Magala who recovered brilliantly from a horror first over to return an economy rate of eight. Aiden Markram did the business with the bat, hitting a second-consecutive fifty.
Possible XI: Malan, Markram, Lubbe, Klaasen, Van Biljon, Linde, Phelukwayo, B Hendricks, Williams, Shamsi, Magala
Throughout this series we've advised caution about Pakistan's batting. The expectation of big runs failed to materialise in game two, just as the data suggested.
Still, it was a surprise to see them struggle so badly. They posted only 140. They disrupted the top order, too, bringing back Sharjeel Khan to open and moving Babar Azam to No 3. Fakhar Zaman missed out.
At 92 for three in the 13th a total of 160-plus looked on the cards but batting Hasan Ali at No 7 exposes their problem. If they play six bowlers they look vulnerable to failing to accelerate.
Possible XI: Rizwan, Sharjeel, Babar, Hafeez, Haider, Faheem, Nawaz, Hasan, Hasnain, Shaheen, Qadir
Those with decent memories will recall that Centurion was the venue where South Africa failed to defend 222 in February 2020 against England. It could well be another road.
Strangely, there was not much evidence of what was to come in that game. More than 160 had been busted only five times in nine.
So we are again particularly wary of expecting Pakistan to do anything monstrous. It's just not in their make-up at present. Sportsbook's 13/10 that both sides score more than 170 is not for us. They go 4/11 that both sides score 160 which makes one wonder about the price for both teams not to reach such a mark instead.
Hosts can shorten
South Africa are 2.265/4 and Pakistan 1.784/5. It's a poor offering about the visitors who, in the context of players available, should be beating this lot out of sight. But they're not.
And maybe that means South Africa's second string, despite the player drain they have suffered to the IPL and down the years to the English county game, are better than they are given credit for. They have shown they are more the capable of getting a grip in these contests.
We are confident about advising a trade on the hosts to favourite status. In an ideal world they will bat first and make use of a potentially helpful track to be jollies at the break.
Sportsbook have taken a view that Sharjeel's return to the opening slot will be shortlived. They go 5/1 that he top scores. It is a wrong price if you believe he will open again.
We're also keen on Mohammad Hafeez again. Irritatingly, we switched horses from Babar Azam to Hafeez in game two and, sod's law, it was Babar who pipped our man. Sportsbook go 9/2 Hafeez this time and we should keep the faith with a guy who has four wins in 12 in the last two years.
Babar's price has been boosted to 5/2 but we're happy to come back again another day particularly after he batted at No 3.
For South Africa, Markram is 3/1 and Malan 16/5. Those are chunky odds about two men guaranteed to open. Markram averages 46 at the venue in 12 matches. Heinrich Klaasen, who is 4s, also has a record of note - averaging 36 and striking at a massive 149.
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Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l & COB Best Bets year end