Hafeez aims for double celebration against South Africa
Mohammad Hafeez will become the second Pakistan player and sixth overall to feature in 100 T20Is when he takes the field against South Africa in first of the four men’s Twenty20 Internationals at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Hafeez, 40, is one shy of reaching the three-figure mark and all set to join the exclusive club of Shoaib Malik (116), Rohit Sharma (111), Martin Guptill, Eoin Morgan and Ross Taylor (102) who have appeared in 100 or more T20Is since the inception of the shortest format of the game in February 2005.
Hafeez featured in Pakistan’s first-ever T20I in August 2006 in Bristol and scored 46 in Pakistan’s five wickets victory over England. Interestingly, Hafeez’s 50th appearance was also at the Wanderers Stadium against South Africa in November 2013 when he as captain took two for 25 and scored 13 not out as the hosts beat Pakistan by four runs in a rain-shortened match.
While Hafeez will be aiming to join Shoaib in the list of players to have played in 100 or more T20Is, he will also be looking to score, at least, 13 runs that will help him leapfrog Shoaib as Pakistan’s leading run-scorer in T20Is.
Shoaib has to date scored 2,335 runs in 116 T20Is, while Hafeez is sixth on the list with 2,323 runs in 99 matches. Hafeez has represented Pakistan in five of the six ICC T20 World Cups since 2007, but missed the 2009 campaign in England, which Pakistan won under Younis Khan at Lord’s.
While Hafeez will be looking for double celebrations on Saturday, Pakistan will be targeting to carry the momentum of the ODI series and make a winning start in the four-match series.
On the ICC T20I rankings, Pakistan is sitting in fourth place on 260 points while South Africa is sixth on 251 points. England is on top of the tree with 272 points, followed by India (270) and Australia (267).
If Pakistan win all four matches, they will earn four points and move to 264 points to reduce the gap to three points with Australia. However, if the series result in reversed, then both the side will swap places with South Africa rising to fourth on 259 points and Pakistan dropping to sixth on 254 points.
In case of a 3-1 series win, Pakistan will rise to 262 points while South Africa will slip to 249 points – 19 points behind seventh-ranked Afghanistan. A 2-2 series result will mean Pakistan will stay fourth on 259 points and South Africa will maintain sixth position on 252 points.
In the ICC T20I Player Rankings, Pakistan captain Babar Azam is the highest-ranked player on either side. The champion batsman is ranked third behind Dawid Malan (England) and Aaron Finch (Australia) but has a chance to narrow the gap with Australia opener whom he trails by 29 points.
Rassie van der Dussen is the next high-ranked batsman in seventh position, followed by Hafeez (46th), Mohammad Rizwan (47th) and Fakhar Zaman (50th), while Heinrich Klaasen, who will captain South Africa in the absence of Temba Bavuma is ranked 91st.
In the bowling table, Tabraiz Shamsi will start-off as the number-one ranked bowler, followed by Shaheen Afridi (12th), Faheem Ashraf (19th) and Mohammad Nawaz (64th).
Babar Azam will be captaining Pakistan in his sixth series since taking over as T20I captain from Sarfaraz Ahmed in October 2019. His side lost 2-0 to Australia, beat Bangladesh 2-0, drew 1-1 with England, won 3-0 with Zimbabwe, and won 2-1 against South Africa.
On a head to head, South Africa lead Pakistan by 9-8, including 4-3 on their turf. Barring a 10-wicket victory in the first-ever T20I between the two sides at the Wanderers in February 2007, South Africa’s other three wins have been narrow ones – four runs at Wanderers in 2013, six runs at Newlands in 2019 and seven runs at Wanderers in 2019.
In contrast, Pakistan’s three wins in South Africa have been by 95 runs at Centurion in 2013, six runs at Newlands in 2013 and 27 runs at Centurion in 2019.
Many of South Africa's best cricketers will be involved in Twenty20 matches on Saturday – but only some of them will be playing for their country in the first of four T20 internationals against Pakistan. The series is being played at the same time as the early stages of the Indian Premier League and the juxtaposition provides a clear illustration of the relative standing of the two international teams.
Former South African captain Faf du Plessis, fast bowler Lungi Ngidi and leg-spinner Imran Tahir are in the CSK squad, while fast bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje are contracted to Delhi. Although they may sit out the first round of IPL games because of quarantine restrictions, all three of South Africa's pace battery in the first two one-day internationals against Pakistan last weekend – Rabada, Nortje and Ngidi – will be in Mumbai instead of playing in Johannesburg. Also in India after playing in the first two games against Pakistan are batsmen Quinton de Kock and David Miller, while IPL stars AB de Villiers and Chris Morris appear to have been lost to international cricket.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Arshad Iqbal, Asif Ali, Danish Aziz, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sharjeel Khan and Usman Qadir.
South Africa: Heinrich Klaasen (captain, wicketkeeper), Aiden Markram, Andile Phehlukwayo, Beuran Hendricks, Bjorn Fortuin, George Linde, Rassie van der Dussen, Janneman Malan, Sisanda Magala, Wiaan Mulder, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lutho Sipamla, Kyle Verreynne, Pite van Biljon, Daryn Dupavillon, Migael Pretorius, Lizaad Williams and Wihan Lubbe.