Cricket Twenty20 International 25 March 2023
South Africa vs West Indies - Match Preview
The delay was longer than the match itself, but T20 stars David Miller and Rovman Powell ensured that the healthy and brave crowd that waited around for nearly two hours after the scheduled start time at least went home entertained if not satisfied with the end result. South Africa and the West Indies stay in Centurion for a weekend double-header and the hosts will today be hoping to achieve precisely what they did the last time they played T20Is on back-to-back days: avenge a first T20I loss to the West Indies on the way to a series win (away in 2021).
Clear skies to promise a full game and a comfortable Sunday afternoon for players after yesterday’s 11-over shootout that still managed to produce two scores that in some parts of the world would be competitive totals (see what happened in Sharjah just a couple of days ago, for example). The pitch didn’t get a lot of use as a result of the midday deluge, and thus yesterday’s game promises plenty of runs across 40 overs today and perhaps a bit in it for the fast bowlers with the pitch not getting an opportunity to really dry out.
It continued South Africa’s pretty poor relationship with Supersport Park in this format. Their fourth consecutive T20I loss in Centurion took them to a record of 3-8 at the venue since the start of 2013, with the Proteas conceding 10+ runs per over in three of the most recent four. If ever there was such a thing as the first ball of an inning setting the tone for the rest of it, plucky left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein inducing a top edge to a short fine leg off the bat of Quinton de Kock, was it. That was de Kock’s 15th dismissal for five or fewer runs in T20Is, but South Africa’s win rate of 53% compared with 64% when he scores 50+ vindicates that they have never been reliant on his success for theirs.
The West Indies have been crying out for a captain that can consistently lead from the front after Nicholas Pooran was unable to match his career numbers in either white ball format when in charge of the team. There were some concerns about Rovman Powell’s ability to do so five years on after he managed just 16 runs in an entire ODI series as a stand-in skipper, but his start as T20I captain could hardly have been better. Powell clubbed five of the 18 sixes on show in the little more than 21 overs bowled in the game, including three in just five balls faced by Bjorn Fortuin.
Cricket West Indies will be hoping to switch Powell to captain this is the second-last or perhaps even the last managerial change they have to make ahead of their home T20 World Cup in 2024, with interim coach Andre Coley also keen to impress in his final two games in charge before the board considers a permanent head coach for the next couple of years. There has been plenty to smile about in the limited overs formats during Coley’s brief stint, with yesterday’s win following a shared ODI series (1-1). As the saying goes, the only thing consistent about the West Indies has been their inconsistency. Across a period of 37 matches in about 18 months, the only single occasion that they have managed to collect consecutive T20I victories were at home to Bangladesh in July 2022, so that remains a long-standing challenge for Coley and Powell to solve.
📋 Key battle: Free from the burdens of captaincy, Nicholas Pooran was unable to improve upon a T20I average as a non-captain that still stands at 41. Across three T20s against South African Anrich Nortje, he has been dismissed twice but has clubbed 31 runs from the other 12 deliveries, including three sixes. He was Nortje’s only wicket yesterday, and the South African speedster has now played five career T20Is at home with no more than a single scalp in each game.
⚡ Stat attack: The last four T20Is in Centurion produced successful run chases.
- Three of the five highest first innings scores at the ground were chased down.
- West Indies recorded the highest opening partnership in just two of their last 12 T20Is.
- Odean Smith returned the West Indies’ best bowling figures in four of their last ten T20Is.
- Sisanda Magala has hit four sixes from his 18 balls faced in T20I cricket.
- The five West Indian bowlers yesterday have combined figures of 2/89 from nine overs bowled to David Miller in all T20 cricket.
South Africa vs West Indies - Match Preview
History was made this week when Afghanistan and Pakistan came up against each other in a bilateral T20 series for the first time. For two countries that play so much T20 cricket, it was certainly odd that they had never previously done so, but now that the precedent has been set these sides should come up against each other more often. Afghanistan won the low-scoring first T20I and will be confident going into the second with it also being played at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
At different times both sides have used the UAE as a long-term home base but with Pakistan now having the right to play in Pakistan, it’s Afghanistan’s turn to play ‘hosts’ in the UAE. It’s a country Afghanistan has done exceptionally well in, winning 33 of its 47 matches, albeit admittedly many of those have come against associate nations. Afghanistan bowled first on a dry pitch that never looked good for batting and they made the most of the bowling conditions, taking three wickets in the powerplay before regular wickets had Pakistan at 60/6 when Mujeeb Ur Rahman (2/9) dismissed the Pakistan skipper Shadab Khan. The tail did a little bit of wagging before while batting slowly on a tricky pitch, getting Pakistan to just 92 from 20 overs.
It was certainly ‘spin to win’ for Afghanistan, the spinners combined for an incredible 5/36 from 11 overs while two of the three pace bowlers went for more than six per over. That was all before Mohammad Nabi stood tall at 38 years old to strike a run-a-ball 38 to win the match. Wickets were still consistent for Afghanistan, but with them needing just 93 to win the run chase was always going to be theirs. It was a history-making win for Afghanistan - their first against Pakistan after three previous attempts - and the first time they have won back-to-back T20Is since August 2022.
Some may excuse Pakistan for being out of form in this format due to this being their first match since the T20 World Cup final loss to England in early November. However, with all of their players coming off the recent Pakistan Super League, there shouldn't be any excuses to offer. Making only 92 from 20 overs was certainly not the way new full-time captain Shadab Khan would have wanted to start, with his numbers now looking worse having won just one of four matches as captain. Perhaps one reason for the terrible performance was the blooding of four debutants in this match with big-name players such as Babar Azam, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Rizwan all missing this series.
While the pitch was certainly difficult it was clear that the Pakistan batters struggled to get any kind of momentum. Only debutant Tayyab Tahir with 16 from nine balls scored at better than seven per over, with the Afghanistan spinners simply too good and perhaps batting first was the wrong decision by the skipper. Ihsanullah, another 20-year-old fast bowler that Pakistan has unearthed, was the best of the bowlers with 2/17. There are certainly bright futures for some of these debutants but with Afghanistan taking this series seriously and Pakistan using it as a way to blood youngsters, it’s hard to see Pakistan coming back.
📋 Key battle: Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who averaged 22 in the recent PSL is a key part of the Afghanistan batting lineup, especially if required to bat first in the second T20I. Pakistan will need to remove him early and perhaps the answer to that is Naseem Shah, the man who removed him in the first T20I of this series. His numbers in the past are also excellent, removing Gurbaz on three occasions in T20 cricket for just 26 runs, at an average of just 8.67.
⚡ Stat attack: The average score batting first across 30 matches at this ground is 149.
- Rahmanullah Gurbaz has played five matches at this venue scoring 174 runs at an average of 34.80.
- Imad Wasim has gone at an economy rate of more than six just twice in his last seven matches.
- Rashid Khan averages 19 with the ball as T20I captain compared with 14.44 overall in his career.
- Shadab Khan needs two more wickets to reach the 100 T20I wicket milestone.
- The team to win the toss has won 57% of completed matches at this venue.
- Ihsanullah took the second most wickets in the recent PSL with 22 at an average of 15.77.
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