Steyn feels Rauf’s knowledge and skill could be the point of difference
Intrigued by the matchup of two world-class attacks, Dale Steyn breaks down South Africa's crucial Super 12 meeting with Pakistan at the ICC Men's T20 World Cup in Sydney.
And while the Proteas legend laments the fact that the side do not face off on the bouncy Perth deck, he tips a contest just as fascinating on an SCG surface.
“I think I would have loved to have seen these two pace attacks go against each other in Perth. I mean, that would have been pretty spectacular, but they're in Sydney, a slightly different wicket," Steyn said.
"There are more runs in Sydney and sometimes it takes a different skill, you want to see the fast bowlers able to adapt.”
South Africa have happy memories batting in Sydney, joining New Zealand in posting a score in excess of 200 there so far during the tournament. India too looked strong with the bat in their match at the SCG, posting 179/2 with three half-centurions in their win over the Netherlands.
While a change of tack may be forthcoming for both bowling groups, who could use changes of pace or even opt for extra spin options instead of playing on Perth's bouncy deck, Steyn emphasised that the pressure on batters to match the scores of earlier in the event could play in the bowlers' favour.
"It’s really up to the batters to see how they can handle on a higher scoring ground. How are they going to combat that to kind of overcome each other?" Steyn said.
“I'm excited to see how the bowlers are going to change their game and how they're going to go about their business on a surface that it's different to what they've come across, but they're just two wonderful attacks, all-round, both sides."
For the bowlers, it will be a battle of wits. Re-thinking their plans on a surface that may not compliment pace and bounce, Steyn implores the bowlers to think of their variations, and calls for those picking the team to be bold should they need to piece together a winning side.
"They (the quicks) might have to go a bit fuller in Sydney, with a couple of yorkers and a lot more change-ups. The ones that are able to, again, I use this word adapt, to those conditions, are going to be the best bowlers of the day," he said.
“You look at somebody like Lungi Ngidi. He might be a horses for courses kind of selection with South Africa.
"He may have got Player of the Match in the previous game, but we might not see him. They might bring in a (Tabraiz) Shamsi if there's going to be a bit of turn. So we'll have to the pitch when we get to the ground."
Earlier in the tournament, Steyn placed Pakistan's Shaheen Afridi in his top five quick bowlers at the tournament, alongside Mitchell Starc, Mark Wood and South Africa's pair of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje.
Though it may be another Pakistan quick to make the difference in the eyes of Steyn: Haris Rauf.
Looking to his extensive experience in Australia, Steyn feels Rauf’s knowledge and skill could be the point of difference.
“I spoke to him probably a year ago, a year out, and he was excited about coming to Australia and playing again," Steyn said.
“He's bowled phenomenally well in this tournament, but he's also bowled well in the Big Bash, so it shows you that he's got experience. He knows how to bowl on these decks, so he's going to be a big force."
As for the result tomorrow, Steyn preferred his compatriots, but didn’t rule out Babar Azam’s side providing they back their business plans.
“I'm going to go with South Africa, (as they're) on a very hot run right now," Steyn said.
"It's a game that Pakistan must win, and sometimes they play on a bit of emotion, and if they can play with skill, I think they'll match South Africa, but if they play on that emotion where they feel like they have to win, they might just come short.
"South Africa are looking really good right now."