After whitewashing South Africa 2-0 in the recently concluded Test series, hosts Pakistan will look to continue their winning momentum in the T20I series, which starts at the Gaddafi Stadium on February 11, Thursday. However, the Proteas will offer a tough challenge to the Babar Azam-led side in the shortest format of the game.
South Africa might have started their tour of Pakistan in the worst possible manner, but Quinton de Kock and Co. will take encouragement from their brilliant record in Asia in the T20I format. The Proteas have lost just once on their last five T20I series in Asia, where they played in the backyards of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan (UAE).
Interestingly, Pakistan have hosted South Africa five times in Asia, with the hosts losing on four of those occasions.
|Head-to-Head in Asia|
However, while South Africa's past records in Asia make them the outright favourites in the upcoming T20I series, their recent performances paint a gloomy picture. In their last five T20I matches, South Africa have lost four whereas Pakistan have won three of their last five T20I matches.
Hence, individual performances will be the key in deciding the winner in the first T20I.
|Top Pakistan Scorers in last 5 T20I matches|
|Top South Africa Scorers in last 5 T20I matches
|HE van der Dussen||5||5||197||74*||65.66||0||1|
|Quinton de Kock||5||5||152||70||30.4||0||1|
|Faf du Plessis||5||5||141||58||35.25||0||2|
Winners to bat first
Pakistan have won four of their last five coin tosses, while South Africa have won thrice in the same. And with both the teams averaging similar scores (Pakistan: 152 runs; South Africa: 154) in their last five T20I matches, batting first will be a wise option.
Interestingly, both Pakistan and South Africa have crossed the 200-run mark twice while batting first in the last five T20I matches. However, Pakistan edge South Africa in their first innings total average of 189 as opposed to South Africa's 161.4.
The hosts have also been the better run scorers of late, hitting 14 boundaries and 6.4 sixes on an average in their last five T20I matches. South Africa, on the other hand, average 10.2 fours and 5.6 sixes in their last 5 T20Is.
Hence, hosts Pakistan are tipped to head into the T20I series as favourites due to their recent form.
Feature Image: Rodger Bosch / AFP