The limited-overs leg of Pakistan’s tour of South Africa will kick off with a five-match ODI series which promises to be an enticing battle.
As the two sides get ready to lock horns in the 50-over format, we take a look at three players from either side who could prove to be key in the series.
The opening batsman will be tasked with getting the hosts off to some explosive starts and his recent form suggests that he is more than capable of performing it with distinction.
The 29-year-old was in scorching form during the inaugural Mzansi Super League T20 where he finished as the joint second-highest run-scorer. Representing Jozi Stars in the league, Hendricks smashed 412 runs from 10 innings at an average of nearly 59 and a strike-rate above 142.
He can clear the boundary ropes with ease if he gets going at the top for South Africa.
Pakistan will already be sick of the sight of Olivier after his performances in the Test series. Called up only as fast-bowling cover initially, Olivier created an instant impact by picking up 24 wickets in the three matches.
His short-pitched bowling had Pakistan’s batsmen in all sorts of bother and his wicket tally is only the second highest ever recorded by a South African bowler in a single series.
Olivier is now in line to make his ODI debut after Dale Steyn was handed a rest and he will be itching to continue his stranglehold over Pakistan’s batsmen.
With Quinton de Kock being rested for the first two ODIs, it will be Klaasen who takes the wicketkeeping gloves for the Proteas. The 27-year-old only made his South Africa debut last year in the series against India and gave an excellent account of himself with some match-winning knocks.
He can be quite effective with his unorthodox shot making against the spinners and that could come in handy against a Pakistan attack which will comprise of Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim.
There are very few batsmen in the world currently who are in better form than Babar when it comes to limited-overs cricket.
The 24-year-old has been on a sensational run in both ODIs and T20s and recently broke Virat Kohli’s record to become the fastest batsman to bring up 1,000 runs in the 20-over format.
One of Pakistan’s better batsmen in the preceding Test series, Babar will be hoping to pick up the same form he showed in the limited-overs clashes against New Zealand in the UAE.
It is hard to believe that Afridi is still only 18 given the maturity he has shown with his bowling on the international stage over the past few months.
The left-armed pacer’s stock continues to rise following his man-of-the-series display in the ODIs against New Zealand in UAE and he has now done the business in the Test format too as evidenced by his nine wickets in the two recent appearances against South Africa.
In just six ODIs so far, Afridi is averaging just a shade under 17 with 13 scalps to his name and he will be eager to add to that tally in the coming series.
He has had to deal with accusations of nepotism ever since he broke onto the big stage but make no mistake, Imam is in the Pakistan squad on merit alone.
His Test career might be yet to fully take off but when it comes to ODIs, the left-handed opener is one of the most exciting young batsmen around currently.
With four international tons to his name in just 16 ODIs at an average of exactly 63, Imam will be key to Pakistan’s hopes of toppling the formidable Proteas in their own backyard.
Star batsman AB de Villiers is hoping to show the world that is it safe to play cricket in Pakistan after giving the green light to play two Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches in the country in the upcoming edition.
The South African, who is due to represent Lahore Qalandars in the league, delighted cricket fans in the country by recently making himself available to play the franchise’s two matches scheduled to be held in Pakistan on March 9 and 10.
International cricket has been at a standstill in Pakistan ever since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009. With his commitment towards the Pakistan leg of the tournament, de Villiers is set to become one of the most high-profile international names to play in the country in recent years.
Speaking to BBC Sport, the former Proteas international revealed that he is hoping to create a massive impact by lending his presence to the two back to back clashes which will take place at the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore.
“I felt that I had this opportunity to maybe make an impact to help international cricket return to Pakistan,” the star batsman said.
🥁 🥁 🥁 The #DamaDamMast T20 star AB de Villiers is coming to Lahore to play back to back matches at the iconic Gaddafi Stadium.— PakistanSuperLeague (@thePSLt20) January 14, 2019
Jee Aayan Noo @ABdeVilliers17. #KhelDeewanoKa
More details 👉 https://t.co/H0ig7qGRJW
“I was reluctant to go a few years back, when we were all a bit worried, but I feel the time is right to go back there.
“I’m hoping to go there and have some fun and show the whole world that Pakistan is safe to travel to again.”
The South African had shocked the cricket world earlier this year by announcing his premature retirement from international cricket. While the prospect of lifting a maiden World Cup with the Proteas in England this summer is an enticing one, de Villiers feels his decision to retire is the correct call.
“I feel I’ve made the right decision to retire,” he stated.
“If they do approach me – and I don’t think that will happen – we’ll have a conversation and I’m pretty sure that I will be staying over here and supporting the team.”
The fourth edition of the PSL gets underway in the UAE on February 14 with as many as eight matches set to take place on Pakistan soil this time around.
Banned Australia batsman David Warner’s Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) stint will be cut short with the opener sustaining an injury to his elbow.
Just days after his compatriot and fellow banned batsman Steve Smith’s BPL stint was ended prematurely with an injury, Warner has faced a similar setback after his Sylhet Sixers’ clash against Rangpur Riders on Wednesday.
The left-hander had taken everyone by surprise by batting right-handed against Chris Gayle in the clash and had smashed two sixes and a boundary in the same over. The Sixers skipper remained unbeaten on 61 off just 36 deliveries but that innings has come at a cost to the southpaw.
Cricket Australia (CA) on Thursday confirmed that Warner will return early from his BPL stint to asses his elbow although the batsman is free to play two more games for his franchise before making the journey home on Monday.
“David has reported some pain in his right elbow,” a CA spokesman stated.
“We will have a clearer understanding of the extent of his injury once he has been assessed.”
Smith, who was representing the Comilla Victorians in the league, had suffered an injury to his elbow as well and is now set to be sidelined for a prolonged spell.
The former Australia skipper underwent a surgery for his ligament injury on Tuesday and faces up to six weeks in a brace. The injury has already forced the right-handed batsman to rule himself out of the upcoming Pakistan Super League (PSL) edition where he was due to represent the Multan franchise.
Both Smith and Warner continue to serve the one-year bans from international and domestic cricket handed out to them by Cricket Australia following their roles in the infamous ball-tampering saga.
The bans for the two batsmen come to an end on March 29 this year with the duo expected to return to Australia’s squad in time for the ICC World Cup in England.