Pakistan appear favourites for 3-0 clean sweep over Proteas ahead of final ODI .
Pakistan became the first Asian side to secure a One-Day International (ODI) series in South Africa following a tight one-run win in Port Elizabeth in the second match on Wednesday. It was also their maiden ODI series triumph against the Proteas.
More accolades wait for Misbahul Haq’s team in Centurion where the two opponents will meet for the third and final game of the series on Saturday.
The visitors will have the chance to seize another milestone, which no team has achieved so far — a 3-0 rout in the ODI series over the Proteas at their home turf.
England whitewashed South Africa (2-0) in a one-day series in 1994, while the last time the Proteas were blanked in three-match series was back in 1991-92 during their tour of the West Indies.
Misbahul Haq’s side was dominated by South Africa in an abundance of ties between the two countries in 2013 but things have changed drastically in the past week for Pakistan. They claimed a six-run victory in the second and final Twenty20 in Cape Town on November 22 which came after six consecutive losses (three ODIs, three Twenty20s).
After the series loss, the home team suffered more setbacks with three of their main campaigners, Dale Steyn, Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith, being ruled out of the match. This was a precaution taken ahead of the India series, following minor niggle.
Particularly, Steyn’s absence – who did the main damage in recent matches – must have boosted Pakistan’s confidence especially Mohammad Hafeez’s (if makes cut for playing team) for obvious reasons: losing his wicket to the fast bowler 15 times in a recent spree.
The recent history at the venue also favours the tourists who won the last ODI game against the hosts in Centurion – a six-wicket rout during their tour earlier this year.
Misbah, who was seen in jubilation after weeks of stress following the series victory, said his team was targeting a whitewash.
“It will be another big achievement,” said the Pakistan captain. “We’ll play with our strength and will look for a series clean sweep.”
However, Misbah said South Africa, despite missing three of their main players, will be a tough side to beat.
It has been learnt that the team management may consider making changes to the playing side that won the first two ODIs.
Fast-bowler Junaid Khan, who played a key role in the last one-dayer with a fiery final over, may be rested with Sohail Tanvir the likely replacement, said an official close to the team management.
“The team management was also considering giving a rest to either one or both, Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez, to pave way for Asad Shafiq and Umar Amin,” said the official.
“The final decision will be made by the team management after a final assessment of the conditions.”