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ICC ODI World Cup 2023: Pakistan vs. South Africa, 26th Match at Chennai Who will win today’s match between PAK and SA?

ICC ODI World Cup 2023: Pakistan vs. South Africa, 26th Match at Chennai. Who will win today’s match between PAK and SA?

Introduction

The lively MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai will host this high-voltage ICC ODI World Cup 2023 clash between Pakistan and South Africa on March 17th. Asian giants Pakistan and perennial underachievers South Africa are in trouble after unexpected losses in their previous matches. This Group 2 Super 12 encounter is critical to their semi-final prospects. In dramatic games, Scotland stunned Minnows Pakistan while the Proteas faced an upset against the Netherlands. The wounded teams will be eager to bounce back strongly and get their campaigns on track with a win. Expect a feisty contest between Pakistan's talented batting and South Africa's disciplined bowling attack.

Pakistan Team Preview

Pakistan have immense talent in their ranks but failed to fire as a unit against Scotland. Their vaunted top order of Rizwan, Babar, and Haq must convert starts into substantial scores. Iftikhar and Shakeel must provide stability in the middle order. The presence of all-rounders Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz lends much-needed balance. Pakistan's bowling appears overly dependent on the young pace duo of Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf. Spinners Shadab and Nawaz need to step up. Pakistan must improve their fielding and energy levels on the ground. If the team can click together, they have the firepower to beat any side. But consistency remains their biggest worry.

South Africa Team Preview

The spirited Dutch ambushed South Africa but expect a strong return against Pakistan. Their batting has tremendous experience, with captains Bavuma, de Kock, van der Dussen, and Miller forming the core. Markram and Klaasen provide firepower down the order. The pace trio of Rabada, Ngidi, and Jansen can blow away any batting lineup, while spinners Maharaj and Shamsi are world-class operators. The Proteas have a well-rounded bowling unit, but their batters must step up. Their batting has sometimes appeared fragile and overly dependent on de Kock. SA will hope senior players like Bavuma and Dussen find form soon. Despite the Dutch upset, South Africa has the team to go deep into the tournament if they play to their potential.

Key Players

Captain Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, and Shaheen Afridi will be the pivotal players for Pakistan. South Africa will bank on Quinton de Kock, Rassie van der Dussen, and Kagiso Rabada to come good. Other key players who could impact the match are Aiden Markram, Shadab Khan, and Tabraiz Shamsi, given the conditions. Both teams will look to their matchwinners to deliver when it matters most.

Pitch and Conditions

The Chennai surface assists spinners, as seen in the recent India-Australia match. Scores around 250–270 can be competitive. The humidity will aid swing bowling early on before spin dominates the middle overs. Dew may assist teams chasing in the evening under lights. With sunny skies forecast, expect a full match without weather interruptions. Teams winning the toss may prefer batting first to post an imposing total. The pitch should produce an even contest between bat and ball.

Head-to-Head Record

Pakistan dominated the overall ODI head-to-head against South Africa with 73 wins from 124 matches compared to South Africa's 45. However, in World Cup meetings, both teams have won four games apiece out of their nine clashes. Earlier this year, Pakistan won an ODI series 2-1 in South Africa. Both teams have the pedigree, but Pakistan holds a psychological edge over the Proteas based on recent meetings.

Expected XIs

Pakistan (likely XI): Shafique, Haq/Zaman, Babar (c), Rizwan (wk), Saud, Iftikhar, Shadab, Nawaz, Wasim, Afridi, Rauf

South Africa (likely XI): Bavuma (c), de Kock (wk), van der Dussen, Markram, Klaasen, Miller, Jansen, Maharaj, Shamsi, Rabada, Ngidi

Both teams are unlikely to tinker with their combinations. Haq and Zaman are Pakistan's only debate, while SA may consider Lizaad Williams over Ngidi. Otherwise, both XIs should remain the same.

Key Matchups

Rizwan and Babar against the South African pacers will be crucial. De Kock vs. Afridi and Markram vs. Shadab will be vital in the middle overs. The contest between Miller and Haris Rauf could also have a key role. In the end-overs, Rabada vs. Asif Ali will be a spicy matchup. How Pakistan's bowling contains de Kock and South Africa's attack curbs Pakistan's batting will shape the game.

Match Prediction

This match is delicately poised, with both teams looking to return to winning ways. Pakistan has the X-factor players, but South Africa is a highly skilled unit. Pakistan's batting holding firm against the Proteas attack could prove decisive. South Africa will bank on their bowling depth to stifle Pakistan. The team handling the Chennai conditions better stands a good chance. Pakistan might start as slight favorites, but South Africa has the arsenal to win. A thrilling see-saw contest seems likely, with the match going down to the wire.

Conclusion

In what promises to be an exciting high-stakes World Cup affair, unpredictable Pakistan takes on always strong South Africa in Chennai. Both teams are coming off shocking losses and must get back on track quickly. Their campaigns hang in the balance ahead of this vital face-off. Pakistan has the flair, but South Africa has the experience. Well-matched on paper, it could come down to who displays better skills and temperament on the day. Hopefully, fans will be treated to an entertaining clash between two highly talented teams.

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