The big boys are back as the Proteas aim to take a 2-1 lead with a victory in the third ODI against Pakistan at SuperSport Park, writes KHALID MOHIDIN.

The Proteas got out of jail in the second ODI against Pakistan. They made what should have been a simple 204-run chase seem difficult by losing five wickets for 80 runs en route to victory. This set off further worries over the Proteas’ batting woes.

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Nonetheless, they managed to avoid botching their chance to level the series, thanks to a magnificent batting performance from Rassie van der Dussen and Andile Phehlukwayo that saw the pair score 127 runs.

Phehlukwayo strengthened the belief surrounding him being South Africa’s best all-rounder with a phenomenal all-round display – 69 not out and 4-22.

The big boys are back for the Proteas in the third ODI. There are three changes to the squad, Dale Steyn and Quinton de Kock come back in to replace Duanne Olivier and Heinrich Klaasen, while Dane Paterson was replaced by in-form left-arm Lions seamer Beuran Hendricks.

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It’s worrying that the Proteas have not yet settled on an XI for the World Cup, but in their defence there does seem to be a core group that is starting to evolve from this experimental journey. But what happens if the players who have been given a chance take it and perform? Does that book them a ticket to England?

Pakistan are doing some experimenting of their own, as they aim to find the perfect blend of all-rounders in their side. They have proven during the entire series against the Proteas that their bowling unit is to be taken seriously, while their batsmen need to find their groove heading into the World Cup.

The ODI at SuperSport Park should be the perfect form-finder for both batting lineups if the wicket prepared is the usual batting paradise that Centurion is known for. There have been 17 totals of 300-plus scored on the ground in ODIs, and that seems to be the par total to determine success on the ground.

The sides have clashed five times in Centurion. The Proteas have won three matches, while Pakistan have won the other two.

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Players to Watch

Reeza Hendricks, Aiden Markram or Van der Dussen? Who will occupy that No 3 spot? These questions need to be answered, so the spotlight is on whoever plays in that position on Friday.

Beuran Hendricks, if he gets the chance, will need to show his worth, as the Proteas are in need of a left-arm seamer option. The consensus is that Lungi Ngidi walks back into the side when fit, but does all the recent opportunities given to seamers mean that CSA selectors have worries over Steyn’s position in the ODI side?

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For Pakistan, it’s about taking the fight to the Proteas seamers, showing intent and bravery. Their bowlers, however, are key to their performance. Shaheen Afridi showed that he can provide movement and pace with the new ball. Shadab Khan has proven how dangerous he is with both bat and ball.

Probable XIs

South Africa
1) Hashim Amla
2) Quinton de Kock (wk)
3) Reeza Hendricks
4) Rassie van der Dussen
5) Faf du Plessis (c)
6) David Miller
7) Andile Phehlukwayo
8) Dale Steyn
9) Kagiso Rabada
10) Beuran Hendricks
11) Imran Tahir

Pakistan: 

1) Imam-ul-Haq
2) Fakhar Zaman
3) Babar Azam
4) Mohammad Hafeez
5) Shoaib Malik
6) Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk) (c)
7) Shadab Khan
8) Hussain Talat
9) Faheem Ashraf
10) Hasan Ali
11) Shaheen Afridi

The third ODI starts at 1 pm on Friday. 

Photo: James Worsfold/Getty Images

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