The revolving door at South Africa’s team hotel in Pakistan has been working overtime as the Test squad packed their bags to be replaced by the shorter format players who go into their first game in Lahore on Thursday.
George Linde is the only member of the side which lost the Test series 2-0 to Pakistan to stick around for the T20Is, while Heinrich Klaasen, who has recovered from a debilitating bout of Covid-19. takes over the captaincy from Quinton de Kock.
So, what can South Africa expect from its T20 cricketers, after the Test squad were comfortably beaten by their Pakistan counterparts in Lahore and Rawalpindi.
The truth is that T20 is far more of a lottery, given its format. The expression that holds true is “the shorter the game the less difference there is between two teams’ strengths and weaknesses”.
Therefore, much of T20 cricket comes down to who performs out in the middle in those three hours of play. Some 120 balls for each side to bat and see how many runs they can get. These days 150 is about a par score and the Proteas certainly have the batting firepower to get that many, and more.
Klaasen himself, the veteran David Miller, Reeza Hendricks, Janneman Malan and JJ Smuts would be expected to get the bulk of the runs, while Junior Dala, Bjorn Fortuin, Linde, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lutho Sipamla and Tabraiz Shamsi could carry most of the bowling responsibilities.
The Proteas have a squad of 18 in Pakistan for the challenge against a home unit that will be looking to carry on from where their five-day counterparts left off.
It’s going to be tough for South Africa.
There’s another Test starting at the same time and it’s a resurgent West Indies who will aim to repeat their first Test heroics in Bangladesh when they cahsed down an unlikely 395 to win with debutant Kyle Mayers hiiting a remarkable 210 not out as they reached their target with three wickets in hand.
The win showed just how unpredictable the West Indies can be, as they’re just as capable of playing “Callapso cricket”.
However, they’ll be on an obvious high following their victory. But, they’re not the favourites going into the game, and are as wide as 100/30 to follow up their win by taking this next Test as well. Despite the defeat, Bangladesh are the more likely to regroup and level the series at 1-all.