Two back-to-back defeats in the Super Eight have left defending champions Pakistan with only a slim mathematical chance of making the semis of the World Twenty20. When they face South Africa in their last Group Eight match in St Lucia on Monday, Pakistan will not only be hoping for a big victory, but will also have a prayer on their lips.
On Saturday, Pakistan lost their thrilling Super Eight match to New Zealand by just one run at the Kensington Oval. When they take the field Monday, Pakistan will not only have to win by a big margin but also hope that New Zealand convincingly beat England in the other Group E match.
The defending champions have looked a hapless outfit under Shahid Afridi, who has come under fire for his team selection. But Afridi said the banning of several senior players and ongoing disciplinary action by home officials was hampering the team's defence of its World Twenty20 title.
"We are coming out from a very difficult time after the New Zealand and Australia tours," said Afridi. "The selection committee picks the team for us and first they announce the team before naming the captain and coach. Maybe in the future we can all sit together and pick a good bunch of guys."
Afridi has failed to live up to his reputation of being one of the most destructive batsmen. His 11 against New Zealand took his series tally to 53 in four matches
"My performance is always very key as captain but this time I have not performed so maybe that's why we haven't had a good result," Afridi said.
It is high time for Afridi to lead with example for the inconsistent batting line-up. Barring Salman Butt all the batsmen have looked patchy. Their bowlers have done a good job by restricting New Zealand to 133. But it is the batsmen, who have to fire against the strong South African batting.
South Africa, however, are on the verge of a semi-final berth and will go for a win. The only thing that would worry South African captain Graeme Smith is the team's batting.
But he would expect his bowlers to bend their back and restrict Pakistan to a small total. But the slow bowlers will be the key and off-spinner Johan Botha will have big role to play alongside pace spearhead Dale Steyn and Charl Langeveldt.