Ed Hawkins keeps the faith on the tops market as Pakistan look to close out the series at Centurion on Friday...
"Mohammad Hafeez has been pushed out to a whopping 13/2 and we go in again. We also note the 5s about Sharjeel Khan for top Pakistan bat"
South Africa v Pakistan
Friday 16 April, 13:30
TV: live on Sky Sports
Van Der Dussen back
At half-time in game three, South Africa were favourites for a 2-1 lead. But their inexperienced bowling attack rain into trouble in the shape of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, two of the best T20 openers around.
Of course South Africa should have made a better fist of defending 204 but this is a second string line-up. There is no Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi or Anrich Nortje.
After managing only one wicket and leaving two overs unbowled, South Africa may reckon that chasing is the better option. Rassie Van Der Dussen has returned to the line-up, bolstering their batting power.
Possible XI Malan, Markram, Van der Dussen, Klaasen, Van Biljon, Linde, Phelukwayo, B Hendricks, Williams, Shamsi, Magala
Pakistan can tweak
Pakistan roared back into the lead in emphatic fashion after slipping up in game two. Well, with the bat at least.
Their bowling has been uncharacteristically weak and they changed the combination again, bringing back Haris Rauf for Usman Qadir.
They are, in fact, imbalanced with only five bowlers available. They could sacrifice Haider Ali for Danish Aziz or Mohammad Wasim to give them a sixth option if they are - again - going round the park.
Possible XI Rizwan, Babar, Fakhar, Hafeez, Haider, Faheem, Nawaz, Hasan, Hasnain, Shaheen, Rauf
The Centurion surface looked as flat as a pancake, reminiscent of the wicket which South Africa failed to defend 222 in February 2020 against England.
There will be a rush, then, for overs on the innings runs from 180-220 one would have thought. But it we're still unconvinced Pakistan would be value for something monstrous batting first because they have so rarely been gung-ho.
Their blitzing in the chase on Wednesday was out of character for them. It could be a one-off. It could be a strong sign of a change in strategy. We will have to wait and see.
We'd actually prefer South Africa batting first for the innings runs market because there might be better odds available. We'd keep fingers crossed for even money for more than 170.
Hosts are in the game
We remain keen on South Africa for the final match of the series because of the positive intent they have shown with the bat, matched by Pakistan's sloppy performances with the ball.
The hosts are 2.3211/8 with Pakistan 1.705/7. It's worth considering, were Pakistan to bat first, how many runs they would need on this surface for that price to hold. More than 180 surely. If South Africa got the same would Pakistan be as skinny? Probably not.
Batting first or second there's nothing wrong with taking big prices about South Africa and laying off at 1.804/5. If South Africa bowl second, though, wait until the break.
Babar Azam has had us chasing our tails this series. We were on him at the start of the series before a move to No3 put us off. Back in the opening slot he produced a magnificent century - his first - to make us sore. The 9/5 from Sportsbook is not short enough on win rate but we swerve players for back-to-back wins.
Instead we retain the status quo. Mohammad Hafeez has been pushed out to a whopping 13/2 and we go in again. We also note the 5s about Sharjeel Khan for top Pakistan bat. If he plays, he opens so it's a rick.
For South Africa Van der Dussen has appeal at 7/2. He should bat at No 3. George Linde was only promoted because South Africa needed a bit more impetus.
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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