Pakistan elect to bat against South Africa
Pakistan captain Younis Khan won the toss and chose to bat against South Africa in the first semi-final of the Twenty20 World Cup at Trent Bridge in Nottingham on Thursday.
South Africa have faltered at crucial stages of major events so many times that their 'chokers' tag is as much of a constant as the national flag on the players' sleeves.
Sydney 1992 (WC semi-final), Karachi 1996 (WC quarter-final), Edgbaston 1999 (WC semi-final), Durban 2003 (Group Game), St. Lucia 2007 (WC semis) and Durban 2007 (Super 8 game T20 WC) all bring back bitter memories for South African supporters and players. In all these tournaments, they were tipped to win before crashing.
Smith's men have won all the five games they have played so far. Pakistan have been brilliant in patches but have stumbled and stuttered into the semis.
But it is now that they are most dangerous. Pakistan can play uninhibited cricket and surprise anyone on their day. SA, on the other hand, are tipped as title favourites.
One good news for South Africa will be the return of vice-captain Jacques Kallis. Kallis missed Tuesday's Super 8 match against India due to a back niggle, but he has been declared fit. Kallis and the rest of the batsmen will need to handle the reverse swing of Umar Gul, a variety that destroyed New Zealand at the Oval last weekend.
But Pakistan don't have only Umar Gul. Sohail Tanvir is a potential dangerman too though he has yet to fire in this tournament. The return of Abdul Razzaq has lent the team the balance it was lacking in the earlier games. But spin will once again be Pakistan's main ally to slay the South Africans as they have Shahid Afridi (woeful with the bat, but in brilliant bowling form) and Saeed Ajmal (11 wickets).
Pakistan: Younis Khan (Capt.), Kamran Akmal, Shazaib Hassan, Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Malik, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi, Fawad Alam, Umar Gul, Mohammad Aamir, Saeed Ajmal.
South Africa: Graeme Smith (Capt.), Jacques Kallis, Herschelle Gibbs, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Mark Boucher, Albie Morkel, Roelof van der Merwe, Wayne Parnell, Johan Botha, Dale Steyn.