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While South Africa are already out of contention for a semi-final berth of the ICC World Cup 2019, Pakistan will go into the game at the Lord’s on Sunday without any further room for error. Both these teams have had a torrid tournament so far, struggling to find the perfect combination and intensity.
As if AB de Villiers’ premature retirement months before the mega event was not enough to leave the Proteas’ World Cup plans in jeopardy, their premier fast bowler, Dale Steyn was sent home due to fitness issues without playing a single game.
With an out of form top order, inexperienced middle order batsmen and a dispirited seam bowling attack, this is arguably the weakest South African side we have seen since their return to international cricket in the early-1990s.
Pakistan, on the other hand, have faced three forgettable defeats at the hands of West Indies, Australia and India respectively but surprised everyone by dismantling the tournament favourites, England. In order to remain in contention for the semi-finals, Sarfraz Ahmed’s men have to win all their remaining four matches.
The green shirts are likely to make multiple changes in their playing XI, with Shoaib Malik and Hassan Ali almost certain to be dropped for the Lord’s match. It remains to be seen if Malik is replaced by the flamboyant Asif Ali or the more sedate Haris Sohail.
There has been some really harsh criticism on both Pakistan and South Africa and this fixture will surely test the strength of character of both the sides. The team that leaves behind its failures and regains self-belief on the day will bounce back and end up triumphs.
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