South African bowler Duanne Olivier
South African bowler Duanne Olivier (R) celebrates the dismissal of Pakistan batsman Sarfraz Ahmed (CL) during the fourth day of the third Cricket Test match between South Africa and Pakistan at Wanderers cricket stadium on January 14, 2019 in Johannesburg. Image Credit: AFP

Port Elizabeth: Pakistan will seek a change of fortune when they play South Africa in the first of five One-day Internationals at St George’s Park on Saturday.

The tourists were mauled in a recent Test series, with none of the three matches going beyond lunch on the fourth day, but have reason to be optimistic in the 50-overs game where fast short-pitched bowling will likely not be a decisive factor.

For both teams, the series is an important step towards the Cricket World Cup in England and Wales later this year.

“We’re certainly a far better white-ball team than we are a Test unit at the minute,” said Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur.

That seems a reasonable assessment as Pakistan have shown their ability in one-day cricket, notably when they won the Champions Trophy in England in 2017. Since the start of that tournament, during which they beat South Africa, they have compiled a 17-10 winning record.

Pakistan’s batting will be strengthened by the inclusion of Mohammad Hafeez, who retired from Test cricket at the end of last year, and Shoaib Malek, while they have a capable attack in which spinners Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim could play key roles.

South Africa have based their World Cup plans on picking four specialist bowlers but have yet to settle on a batting all-rounder to fill the crucial No. 7 position.

Opening batsman Aiden Markram has another opportunity to shine in a format in which he has yet to assert himself, while fast bowler Duanne Olivier was rewarded for his man of the series performances in the Tests with a first one-day call-up.