ICC Champions Trophy: Pakistan and South Africa to battle for survival

Misbah ul HaqPakistan's Misbah-ul Haq uring ICC Champions Trophy group B cricket match at the Oval cricket ground in London. (AP Photo)

Handed defeats in their respective tournament-openers, Pakistan and South Africa would be fighting to stay alive in the ICC Champions Trophy when they take on each other in their second group B match on Monday.

While Pakistan lost their opening match to the West Indies in a low-scoring cliffhanger, South Africa were beaten by India by 26 runs.

Monday's match will be a shootout of sorts for both the teams and it is the South Africans, who are looking more vulnerable, despite the well-known unpredictability of the Pakistanis.

The Proteas are faced with the challenge of playing Pakistan without two of their main strike bowlers as Morne Morkel has gone back home due to injury, while Dale Steyn remains a "work in progress" on the fitness front.

The update on Steyn is still not quite clear after the world's No.1 fast bowler was injured during a warm-up match against Pakistan at the Oval last Monday after bowling just five overs. Pakistan went on to win the game by five wickets.

"Dale is a work in progress as far as recovery is concerned. We can only get him to start bowling once he is symptom-free," Mohammed Moosajee, South Africa team manager and doctor, has explained.

Newcomer Chris Morris is almost certain to make his ODI debut against Pakistan. Morris replaced Morkel, who was forced to return home due to a groin injury against India.

"I've been with this team for two years. Morne has been injured once and Dale has never been injured. Now it's come together. That's a curveball," admitted South Africa coach Gary Kirsten.

Pakistan may not have injury concerns to deal with, but Misbah-ul-Haq still has plenty of worries on his plate.

Misbah was the lone batsman to put up a semblance of fight against the West Indies with a 96 not out after coming in at No. 5. He has since pleaded with his batsmen to play with more responsibility and stay on for at least the entire 50 overs.

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