ICC World T20 preview: Pakistan vs South Africa
South Africa lock horns with Pakistan in what is expected to be a battle of attrition in their ICC World Twenty20 Super Eight match on Friday.
Both teams will be equally confident after their emphatic showings in the group stage of the tournament, and it will be interesting to see who emerges winner at the R Premadasa Stadium stadium.
Pakistan, winner of the 2009 edition, won both their group league matches with ease.
If skipper Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed shone in their win over New Zealand, Imran Nazir led the way with an onslaught that left the Bangladesh bowlers shell-shocked in their last game.
Hafeez deserves mention as he led admirably with both bat and ball, his canny off-spinners often proving to be a perfect foil for Saeed Ajmal, who has become a sort of a headache for batsmen the world over.
Flashy wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal has also shown glimpses of his brilliance and looked in good nick against their South Asian rivals.
Pacers Umar Gul and Sohail Tanvir haven't really fired, but Yasir Arafat made an impact with three Bangladeshi wickets, and Pakistan are unlikely to make any changes to the squad that played in the last game.
The match assumes more significance for Pakistan as a win against the Proteas will put them in the perfect frame of mind ahead of the big-ticket encounter with arch-rival India on Sunday.
South Africa have been their consistent self in the group stage, but the real tournament starts now, and more so for the Proteas.
The shocking 2011 World Cup quarterfinal defeat to New Zealand still fresh in mind, South Africa would once again would look to shed the tag of perennial chokers in ICC tournament, and a win tomorrow will be a positive step in that direction.
A look at their performance in the group stage will only add to South Africa's confidence going into the competitive round.
Led by the explosive A B de Villiers, the team hammered neighbours Zimbabwe by 10 wickets to start the tournament in the best possible manner.
In the rain-reduced seven-over hit against hosts Sri Lanka, the Proteas were well served by the skipper, who helped them to a 32-run win in Hambantota.
There is no dearth of strokemakers in the SA line-up and right from the in-form Hashim Amla to the great Jacques Kallis, each one of them is capable of single-handedly turning a match on its head.
The presence of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and his brother Albie make for an effective pace battery.
Points Table for Super Eight Stage
ICC Twenty20 World Cup 2012: Match time table with group details