PORT ELIZABETH – Faf du Plessis expects a good contest between South Africa and Pakistan in the first One-Day International at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Du Plessis returns to lead the side after missing the final Test of the 3-0 whitewash due to suspension, and is wary of a fightback from the reigning ICC Champions Trophy holders in a format of their strength.
Both teams have welcomed new faces into their respective squads, and will be using the series to finalise squad combinations ahead of the Cricket World Cup later this year.
The Proteas have 10 official matches left ahead of the tournament, and will be hoping to have all their selection questions answered by the end of the series.
“The Test series went really well,” Du Plessis said at St George’s Park on Friday. “In saying that, I think Pakistan is a very good one-day side.
“They will be the first to say that from performances over the last year their one-day side has been much stronger than their Test side. It will be a nice challenge for us.
“They are ICC Champions Trophy winners from 2017, and we are a one-day side that is also trying to find balances within our team.
“With Quinny (de Kock) and Dale (Steyn) rested for the first two games, it gives us an opportunity to see what else we need to look at, that is important.
“We have some new faces, Rassie (van der Dussen) is new in the one-day side,” he said.
Excitement loading in the Windy City! It's almost #ProteaFire time! Make sure you've booked your tickets for the first @momentum_za ODI at https://t.co/1lqITTRjI4. Price starts from R100. Play starts at 13:00 with build up at 12:30 on SuperSport 2, SABC 3 & Radio 2000.#SAvPAK pic.twitter.com/Yy6Y24zn1I— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) January 18, 2019
“I was impressed with him in the two games he played with the T20 side. It was hard to fit him into the squad to Australia because there is a lot of competition among the batsmen, there are a lot of options available.
“He then had a great Mzansi Super League, he has been knocking on the door hard. It’s a great time for him to get an opportunity after all the runs he has scored.”
Pakistan have never lost a match at St George’s Park, winning three out of four (one no-result), and interestingly, former batsman Saleem Elahi holds the record for the highest ODI score (135) at the ground posted in 2002.
The Proteas are ranked fourth on the ODI team rankings, while Pakistan lie close behind in fifth position.
African News Agency (ANA)