Shaking off a disappointing loss to India with convincing victories over West Indies and Ireland, South Africa look to solidify their standing for the knockout stage, but must first take down a talented Pakistan side Saturday in Cricket World Cup Pool B play at Eden Park in Auckland.
With six points, coach Russ Domingo’s side sit in second place behind heavily favored India, but could hold pat with both JP Duminy and Vernon Philander passing their fitness tests. Philander’s status was in doubt due to a hamstring issue, but his presence will help South Africa as it tries to parry a loaded group of Pakistan batsmen.
"A guy like JP will definitely get back in the mix. He has been one of our best players over a period of time," coach Russell Domingo said. "We need to make sure Vernon is 100 percent ready to go because we need to be careful with a hamstring strain with the important stage of the competition still to come."
Even with Duminy and Philander on the mend, South Africa managed to silence West Indies by 257 runs and Ireland by 201 runs, making up for the 130-run loss to India prior.
Owning four points and in third place in the pool, Pakistan have won two straight over Zimbabwe and United Arab Emirates despite a glaring lack of production at the top of their order. The 129-run win over UAE was especially impressive given the struggles, with Ahmed Shehzad and Haris Sohail leading the way.
Pakistan’s bowling has been a sight, with Wahab Riaz clocking in at 154 kph, by the far the fastest in this year’s tournament so far.
Match time: Saturday, 2 p.m. local time; Friday, 8 p.m. EST.
TV channel: DISH Network, Mediacom and Time Warner Cable subscribers can watch the match via pay per view. More info here.