AUCKLAND–March 6, 2015: Pakistan will not get over awed by rampaging South African batting nor they would seek an escape route with one point as Auckland weather threatens to disrupt Saturday's Pool B match. Instead, skipper Misbah-ul Haq insisted his team wants a full game and was looking for a win.
On a comeback trail in the World Cup with wins over Zimbabwe and the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan seems to be peaking at the right time.
In order to harbour real hopes of reaching the last eight, they need to win both their last games – against South Africa and Ireland (March 15 in Adelaide).
Posting 400-plus totals against the West Indies and Ireland in successive games, South Africa have already one step in the quarter-finals with three wins in four matches. What is more they are firing on all cylinders, at least in batting. Pakistan have never beaten South Africa in a World Cup match, losing to their African rivals in 1992, 1996 and 1999.
But Misbah said his bowlers can stop the prolific South African batsmen.
"I think our bowling is doing really well and we are confident that we have got bowlers who can get wickets against any team. We have played against South Africa in 2013 and ‘14 and they [Pakistan bowlers] know how these batsmen play, posting some good performances. So we are confident that we have the bowling which can put them under pressure," said Misbah.
"Everybody is determined, we all know that it’s an important game for us if we want to progress in this World Cup."
Misbah admitted AB de Villiers is the best batsman in one-day internationals, but his bowlers can put him under pressure.
"AB is the best batsman in the world in the limited-overs cricket now; obviously we have good bowlers who can put him into pressure. The only way to stop him is to get his wicket, for if he is there it’s not easy to stop him," said Misbah of his counterpart who hit 66-ball 162 against the West Indies.
Misbah said his team wants a full game and were ready for the match.
"You can't control the weather; so you need to be prepared and hope that it’s a full game and go with a positive thought that you can win,” said Misbah who admitted Twenty20 cricket has changed the batsmen now approach one-day cricket.
"You never know because it has been changing now, its Twenty210 all over the world and you might see that it’s a ten-ten or eight-eight in future, the game is getting shorter and shorter. And 50-overs scores are going up and you can expect anything."
Pakistan received the much-needed boost as spearhead Mohammad Irfan regained full fitness after injuring a hip muscle in the match against the UAE.
"Irfan is fit; he bowled three-four overs in the nets; he was feeling okay, so no issues there; Haris has a bit of swelling on his heel; let’s see how he responds to treatment".
Pakistan will seek a huge improvement in their batting against a fierce South African attack which includes Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Kyle Abbott.
The pace attack is backed by wicket-taking leg-spinner Imran Tahir who has nine wickets in four matches in the ongoing event so far.
South Africa, who can make the quarter-finals with a win, will have J.P Duminy fit again after missing the last two games due to a side strain. He is likely to replace Farhan Behardien.
"A guy like JP will definitely get back in the mix. He has been one of our best players over a period of time," said coach Russell Domingo, though he was cautious over the return of seamer Vernon Philander.
"We need to make sure Vernon is 100 per cent ready to go because we need to be careful with a hamstring strain with the important stage of the competition still to come."
Domingo said South Africa can challenge Pakistan with AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis, all scoring hundreds in the last two games.
"They've got some great bowlers. The tall man Irfan has been bowling really well at the moment and I think Wahab Riaz has bowled the quickest ball in the competition thus far – at 154 kmph," said Domingo.
"They are definitely a bowling attack that needs to be respected and we need to be careful against them," said Domingo, who believes chasing a target is Pakistan's weakness.
"Pakistan's record of chasing scores, I don't think they have chased over 260 in the past six years, is a defining factor in terms of winning the game," Domingo said.
"Pakistan's unpredictability is not a challenge because they are predictably unpredictable, if that makes sense. Their strength lies in the predictability of their unpredictability," Domingo said.