Fakhar Zaman feeling the heat ahead of Pink Day ODI between South Africa and Pakistan

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Fakhar Zaman is under pressure to deliver.

The visitors have it all to do as South Africa and Pakistan get ready to lock horns in the fourth ODI at the Wanderers on Sunday.

Having started the series with an emphatic win, Pakistan find themselves trailing 2-1 in the five-match series after defeats at Durban and Centurion.

Ahead of the all-important clash at Johannesburg, we take a look at the key talking points.

SELL OUT CROWD FOR PINK DAY FIXTURE

The fourth ODI between the two sides will honour the Pink Day tradition that has been in place for the last six years in South Africa. Incorporated to raise awareness about breast cancer, the Pink Day fixture has become an annual tradition for South African cricket.

A sell-out crowd is expected at the Wanderers with the hosts set to turn up in their special pink jerseys for the occasion. The Proteas have not yet been beaten even once in eight Pink Day fixtures so far and as such, Pakistan will have their work cut out on Sunday.

The Proteas will be out in their special pink jerseys.

The Proteas will be out in their special pink jerseys.

FAKHAR ZAMAN FEELING THE HEAT

The rain-affected third ODI saw Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq silence his critics in style with a superb century. However, the same cannot be said of his opening partner Fakhar Zaman who has failed to get going since his arrival in South Africa.

The left-hander had a miserable time in the Test series defeat to the Proteas and that poor form has clung on to him in the ODIs as well. The opener could only muster 26 runs in the first ODI before being dismissed for just two runs at Centurion.

With Shan Masood waiting in the wings after his excellent showing in the Test series, Fakhar’s place in the squad could come under question with another poor display. He needs to find form fairly soon, for both his and Pakistan’s sake.

Fakhar Zaman has had a poor tour so far.

Fakhar Zaman has had a poor tour so far.

RUNS EXPECTED TO FLOW AT WANDERERS

Both teams excelled in the batting department in the third ODI at Centurion and the same can be expected to continue at the Wanderers.

The venue has seen three 400-plus totals over the years including South Africa’s famous successful chase of 434 against Australia in 2006. The last time South Africa and Pakistan went head to head at the Wanderers, both teams crossed the 300-run mark with the hosts ultimately winning by 34 runs.

As such, batsmen will be expected to rule the roost in the fourth ODI while the bowlers from both sides will be wary of a hiding.

Batsmen can expect to make merry at the Wanderers.

Batsmen can expect to make merry at the Wanderers.

SARFRAZ CONTROVERSY TAKES A BACK SEAT

The series had been thrown into controversy during the second ODI when Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed’s racially charged crude comments to all-rounder Andile Phehlukayo were picked up by the stump mics.

Amidst the social media outrage, Sarfraz took to Twitter to issue a general apology. The hosts sought to play down the turn of events as well with Faf du Plessis stating that the team had accepted Sarfraz’s apology.

Ahead of the third ODI at Centurion, Sarfraz further diffused tensions by personally rendering an apology to Phehlukwayo.

There has been no word as of yet on the ICC inquiry against the Pakistan skipper although match referee Ranjan Madugalle had submitted his report on the matter. Whether the ICC take any action of their own against Sarfraz remains to be seen but for now, cricket will take the front seat for the remainder of the series.

The Sarfraz controversy takes a back seat for now.

The Sarfraz controversy takes a back seat for now.

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Hamstring troubles plague Sri Lanka with pacer Lahiru Kumara the latest to be sidelined

Sport360 staff 26/01/2019
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Lahiru Kumara is out of the second Test against Australia.

Hamstring injuries continue to hamper Sri Lanka’s ongoing tour of Australia with pacer Lahiru Kumara the latest player to be sidelined for a prolonged spell.

The Sri Lanka pacer had picked up the injury on day two of the first Test against Australia at Brisbane and did not bat or bowl for the remainder of the match.

The visitors fell to a crushing defeat by an innings and 40 runs in the first Test on Saturday and now trail 0-1 in the two-match series.

Speaking to the media after the loss, Sri Lanka skipper Dinesh Chandimal confirmed that Kumara is out of contention for the second Test against Australia which gets underway on February 1.

“Kumara is out for four to six weeks. So he’s out of the next game,” Chandimal stated.

While the pacer will play no part in the remainder of the Australian tour, he has now also been effectively ruled out of the first Test against South Africa whom Sri Lanka are due to tour next month.

Kumara will join Nuwan Pradeep on the sidelines.

Kumara will join Nuwan Pradeep on the sidelines.

Kumara’s injury is the latest in a spate of hamstring injuries for the Sri Lankans. Star batsman Angelo Mathews was the first casualty after he picked up a hamstring strain in the second Test against New Zealand. Mathews was subsequently ruled out of the tour of Australia.

Pacer Nuwan Pradeep too succumbed to hamstring troubles last week and has been ruled out of the ongoing series against Australia.

The visitors’ bench strength will be now be tested greatly in the second and final Test against Australia which will take place at the Manuka Oval in Canberra.

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Dhoni's revival continues and other takeaways from India's win in second ODI

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MS Dhoni was on song once again with the bat.

India gave hosts New Zealand no respite in the second ODI at Mount Maunganui with the Men in Blue completing a comprehensive 90-run win.

It was another dominant display from Virat Kohli and his men following their eight-wicket win in the first ODI at Napier as they took a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.

Having posted 324-4 in their 50 overs, India bowled out New Zealand for just 234 runs to cap off an impressive win.

Here, we look at the key takeaways from India’s display in the second ODI.

INDIA’S TOP ORDER REMAINS ON SONG

It needs no saying really but India’s top-order is the envy of all international teams. It was evident once again on Saturday with Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan putting on a 154-run stand for the opening wicket.

Rohit continued the sensational consistency he has shown in the ODI format for many years while Dhawan carried on from where he left off at Napier. The duo set up a solid platform for India to launch off from in the death overs with Rohit being unfortunate to miss out on a well-deserved ton.

While Rohit and Dhawan excelled in the opening roles, skipper Kohli too was looking fluent on his way to 43. However, for the second time in a row, the India captain fell short of his half-century and he will be desperate to change that in the third ODI which will be his last outing in New Zealand before he returns home for a break.

India's top-order continues to fly.

India’s top-order continues to fly.

DHONI’S REVIVAL CONTINUES

One of the most pleasing aspects of India’s win in the second ODI was the batting performance of veteran MS Dhoni who continued his resurgence following a poor 2018.

The India wicketkeeper had shown his mettle in the ODI series win over Australia with a man-of-the-series display and he proved that he can still provide explosive finishes with his performance on Saturday.

It was only because of Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav’s exploits in the death overs that India went past the 300-run mark with the former smashing an unbeaten 48 off just 33 deliveries. Dhoni’s entertaining cameo contained five boundaries and a six and the 36-year-old is slowly rediscovering the touch that made him such a feared batsman in the death overs.

Dhoni provided the finishing touches to India's innings.

Dhoni provided the finishing touches to India’s innings.

WILLIAMSON AND TAYLOR FAIL TO LIFT KIWIS

Before the start of the series, Kohli had warned his team to be ready to chase down 300-plus targets in the five-match series given New Zealand’s formidable batting line up.

That has not happened so far with New Zealand’s batting coming up a cropper in both ODIs. They were bowled out for just 157 at Napier and lasted just 40 odd overs on Saturday.

Their batting woes can be attributed to the poor showings of skipper Kane Williamson and stalwart Ross Taylor. The two batsmen had been in exceptional form in 2018 but have failed to come to the party against India.

Williamson started well on Saturday with two sixes and a boundary but then threw his wicket away while attempting to cut Mohammed Shami. Taylor too, got off to a decent start but he was uncharacteristically undone by Kedar Jadhav’s part-time spin to be stumped by Dhoni.

Taylor failed to last long in the second ODI as well.

Taylor failed to last long in the second ODI as well.

KULDEEP WORKS HIS MAGIC ONCE AGAIN

After a terrific 2018 in limited-overs cricket for Kuldeep Yadav, his 2019 started off on a poor note with the wrist-spinner failing to create an impact in the first two ODIs against Australia before being dropped for the decider at Melbourne.

It has not taken Kuldeep long to get back to his best with the Kiwis bearing the brunt of his force in both ODIs so far. The youngster repeated his four-wicket haul in the Napier win with four wickets on Saturday that derailed New Zealand’s chase completely.

The Kiwi top-order was already back in the dressing room before Kuldeep got to work his magic in the second ODI and the wrist-spinner went for the kill with the dismissals of the dangerous Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls and Colin de Grandhomme. The wicket of Ish Sodhi was the icing on the cake for Kuldeep who finished with figures of 4-45 from his 10 overs.

With Kuldeep looking back to his best, India will have their tails up for the remainder of the series.

Kuldeep continues to bamboozle the Kiwi batsmen.

Kuldeep continues to bamboozle the Kiwi batsmen.

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