Pakistan take on South Africa in the second of two Twenty20 Internationals on Friday, with the hosts looking to salvage something from a difficult campaign.
Venue: Dubai International Cricket Stadium
Date: Friday, Nov. 15, 2013
Start time: 16:00 GMT (20:00 local)
Live on: Z Cinema
Weather: The Weather Channel predicts a fine evening with a top of 30 degrees Celsius.
Since Pakistan's shock victory in the first Test of South Africa's tour of the UAE, this has been a vastly one-sided exhibition of cricket. In fact, since that upset, the scoreline reads 6-1 across all three formats in favour of the African nation.
Once again, Pakistan's batting frailties have been exposed. However, against the world's most fearsome bowling attack, it's hardly been a surprise.
The captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, had been forced to shoulder a heavy burden during the Test and ODI series, given the rather feeble support he received from his teammates.
Yet with Misbah missing from Pakistan's T20 squad, those teammates must find a way to resist South Africa's lethal bowling attack in the final game of the tour.
Of course, that didn't happen in the first T20 on Wednesday, when Pakistan collapsed to 98-all out in the midst of another Dale Steyn masterclass.
Although the game's shortest format should be Pakistan's best hope of success against South Africa, it was pretty clear which way the first T20 was headed after the visitors claimed their first three Pakistani scalps with just four runs on the board.
For Pakistan to salvage anything from the tour's finale, a steely determination—rather than careless exuberance—must be shown with the bat.
The concept of "going down swinging" is a luxury afforded to those that have previously shown an exemplary level of application.
The home side's batting unit is hardly in that position.
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez (capt), Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal (wk), Umar Amin, Shahid Afridi, Sohaib Maqsood, Abdul Razzaq, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Malik, Abdur Rehman
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (capt), Hashim Amla, Henry Davids, Quinton de Kock (wk), Jean-Paul Duminy, Imran Tahir, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, David Wiese
Pakistan: Shahid Afridi perfectly encapsulates the very essence of this Pakistani team. Yet for his side to have any hope at all against South Africa, the enigmatic 33-year-old will need to produce one of his truly magical performances. With the bat, he's capable of pushing Pakistan towards to the elusive 200-mark, given that he's clubbed more sixes in international cricket than any other player in history. However, an elite performance with the ball will also be needed if his side is to break through a South African top order that cruised to victory on Wednesday.
South Africa: Dale Steyn's Man of the Match performance in the first T20 of the series was further evidence of his immensely destructive capabilities in this format. While so many regard T20 as a batsman's haven, Steyn's incisive spells at the beginning of innings are capable of deciding the match in a matter of minutes. Should he carve through Pakistan's top order once more, there's only one result possible for this final match of the tour.
It's unlikely we'll witness another sub-100 effort from Pakistan in this match, but it's also hard seeing them score the 160-plus that they'll need to test South Africa.
With Steyn and Lonwabo Tsotsobe ripping the home side to shreds on Wednesday, the tourists' bowling unit simply appears too strong to concede a meaningful total to Pakistan.
Unless Afridi is able to settle in before launching a parade of fireworks, South Africa's batsmen won't have too much to do to ensure yet another victory.