Pakistan and South Africa are two teams whose performance in this World Cup has been a disaster so far. The Proteas have struggled with injuries and lack of effectiveness from their batsmen. Pakistan, on the other hand, have fallen off the cliff, at least morally, after their defeat to India.
When these two sides meet at the famous Lord's ground, it would be hard to predict a winner. Pakistan can swing from sublime to ridiculous and the other way round faster than any other side. South Africa only need their players to play up to their potential to start firing. That hasn't been the case so far.
But the Faf du Plessis-led side need to beware of Pakistan. This team has a unique ability to produce the most amazing turnarounds. Their comeback from a disastrous start in the 1992 World Cup to winning the title is legendary. But even in 2015, the Men in Green looked completely out of sorts early on before turning the tables on South Africa against all expectations.
The kind of vitriol and abuse coming their way from fans might be very pernicious. But in the case of Sarfaraz Ahmed-led side, it could just turn out to be the booster shot which the team requires. The way the Pakistani players have been trolled, their response may be similar to that of the Imran Khan-led side in 1992 – of feeling like 'cornered tigers.'
They may just charge at their opponents with vengeance and send a reminder to the whole world about their quality. But for that, two things would be important. The toss is the first thing. As the experience of the India match shows, Pakistan are very poor when it comes to chasing. Batting first would be a huge relief. The other is the performance of bowlers apart from Mohammad Amir. Hasan Ali and Wahab Riaz haven't performed up to the mark. Shadab Khan has also not played the sort of role expected of him. So, providing support to Amir is essential. If they are able to do that, they have a good chance of winning.
For South Africa, the performance of their top order is crucial. Hashim Amla's half-century in the last match looked pale but almost proved a match-winning knock. If the opening pair of Amla and Quinton de Kock gets going, Pakistan may be in serious trouble.