Proteas head coach Mark Boucher wants his bowlers to run in hard and show aggression against Pakistan when the first of three ODIs is played in Centurion on Friday.
And he specifically wants his bowlers to take charge of the match in the crucial middle period of the innings, between overs 11 and 40.
While he expects the pitch to be a bit slower than usual, due to it already being April and quite autumnal, Boucher still believed conditions would be good.
“We’ve got the pace and we need wickets in the middle overs,” said Boucher on Thursday. “From overs 11-40 we want to be nice and aggressive, make the play and not just sit back and wait for things to happen.
“So I hope the quicks run in and be really aggressive. You tend to win games if you take wickets in that period and we’ve got the firepower and the spinner to do that.”
The last time South Africa played a home ODI series in April was against Australia in 2009, the Proteas winning the rubber 3-2.
While spinners played a big role in the series, the most interesting result came at Centurion when Australia were destroyed by early-morning swing, Dale Steyn and Wayne Parnell sharing eight wickets, to be bowled out for just 131. Friday’s match has a 10am start time.
“It’s certainly cooling down, it’s why I’m wearing my tracksuit top and a couple of the guys have come down with a bit of flu,” Boucher said.
“Generally, the colder it gets up here the slower the pitch, but it still looks pretty good. There hasn’t been as much cricket played on it this summer so it probably is a bit fresher than usual. And it’s a day game so I expect good conditions, but just a touch slower to what we’re used to.
Boucher confirmed that all 22 members of the ODI squad are fit and available, including all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo, who injured his ankle in the first game of the domestic T20 competition and has not played since February 19.
The last time the Proteas played ODI cricket was when they whitewashed Australia 3-0 a year ago, but not all of those star performers are going to be in the starting XI on Friday.
“A lot of guys were rested from that series and there were a couple of injuries, plus it was a long time ago,” Boucher said.
“So by rights certain players will come back and have got to fill their spots again, but we will also take form into consideration. It’s nice to have a full-strength squad to choose from. There will be honest conversations about who is first in line.
“Temba Bavuma will probably bat three and we see Aiden Markram as someone we can juggle, but he will probably start up front although he can bat three or four.
“We’ve selected a squad in line with what we want to do in the 2023 World Cup, but it’s more important to win now and we want give guys opportunities where they have really done well for their franchises.”