Ed Hawkins says the toss should be crucial in Cape Town on Wednesday for the decider, with the teams locked at 2-2...
"Floodlit matches at Cape Town is one of the most toss bias situations in world cricket in this format. In 40 matches the bias stands at 70% for the team batting first"
South Africa v Pakistan
Wednesday 30 January 11.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
South Africa unbalanced
South Africa were on course for an unassailable 3-1 lead in the 26th over at The Wanderers. Their two best batsman, Faf Du Plessis and Hashim Amla, were set and the platform at 119 for two for something monstrous was built.
That they managed to post only 164 is extraordinary. And the game was up. Defeat by eight wickets followed.
The hosts' batting has not convinced for some time. And it's always worth trying to figure out how South Africa will fare setting a target or a chase if they bat either Dale Steyn or Kagiso Rabada at No 8. It's one or the other.
This just won't do for a team with aspirations for competing at the business end of the World Cup. Andile Phelukwayo there? Fine. But not out-and-out bowlers.
They need to find another all-rounder. It could be Dwaine Pretorius but we're not so sure whether they'll make the change for the decider.
Pakistan's ace bowling attack
Pakistan have a tremendous bowling attack, even if they persist with picking the passenger that is Mohammad Amir. Mind you, he did double his wicket-tally to two in 10.
The man that did the damage was Usman Shinwari, who Big Bash followers will remember from his stint with the Melbourne Renegades. He took four wickets and dovetailed perfectly with Shaheen Shah Afridi who claimed two with an econ rate of three. Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan, the spinners, were typically mean.
Sarfaraz Ahmed, the skipper, misses out again. He has been banned for four matches after his racist slur. Mohammad Rizwan is a good replacement and deserves a crack.
We'd much prefer Amir to be dropped for Hasan Ali for this crucial contest. Surely it will happen? With the bat Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam are having a jolly old time.
Floodlit matches at Cape Town are one of the most toss bias situations in world cricket in this format. In 40 matches the bias stands at 70% for the team batting first. The ball has a habit of misbehaving under lights. Pakistan should be well aware of this. They defended 218 there in 2013. It also helps that the wicket's a road for whoever bats first. The last three sides to have done so have busted 300.
Has to be the visitors
With the toss so important we can say here and now that Pakistan are value at [2.58]. This is a fifty-fifty game.
We have consistently said that South Africa have been stinking the place out at the odds and we wouldn't bet them pre-toss with someone else's money. They're shocking value.
Unfortunately, Pakistan are a much better prospect batting second so all the planets are not in line. But South Africa will be quaking if the visiting pace trio get a go under lights.
South Africa, of course, will say the same about their bowling line-up. And that is absolutely right.
Du Plessis has edge
There's a standout favourite to follow on ground form for top South Africa bat. Du Plessis has the best record of the three main fancies with Amla and Quinton De Kock struggling at Newlands. Du Plessis has 256 runs in four innings with an average (including not outs) of 64. Amla averages 27 and De Kock 22. Du Plessis is 9/2 with Betfair Sportsbook.
Big numbers tempt
Imam has notched three times but he's still not getting much respect from Sportsbook. He's rated third favourite at 4s behind Babar at 3s and Mohammad Hafeez at 7/2. Perhaps they reckon he doesn't have another top effort in him. It would be remiss not to point out Rizwan at 10s and Imad at 19s in case the top order gets blown away under lights.
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. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l
Back Pakistan batting first at [2.2] or better (2pts)