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ICC Cricket World Cup, South Africa vs West Indies: Preview

Sydney: South Africa face a revitalised West Indies at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday in a match they need to win to breathe life back into their faltering World Cup campaign.

The Proteas, who are yet to win a World Cup, were outplayed by defending champions India, losing by 130 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground last Sunday.

That left AB de Villiers` team with just two points after two games and trailing India, the West Indies and Ireland in Pool B.

While the South Africans mastered the West Indies 4-1 in a home series last month they confront a Caribbean team full of confidence after their 73-run win over Zimbabwe.

Opener Chris Gayle bounced back to his destructive best with the highest ever individual World Cup score of 215 containing a record-equalling 16 sixes, while Marlon Samuels scored an unbeaten 133 in an all-time ODI record stand of 372.

The South Africans cannot afford to lose to the West Indies as they would then have to beat Ireland, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates to ensure they finish near the top of their pool and secure an advantageous quarter-final draw.

South Africa have won three of their five World Cup encounters with the West Indies, including the last two in Delhi and Grenada.

The Proteas will also have to show that they are genuine World Cup contenders after reaching the semi-finals of the 1992, 1999 and 2007 tournaments.

"It`s a big game for us and it`s a must win for us in Sydney," de Villiers said. "We`ll come with a bit of energy again. The way I know this team, we always bounce back.

"We`ve got a never-say-die attitude, and this tournament is by a long way not over for us."

A big part of South Africa`s hopes rests with premier paceman Dale Steyn`s contest with record-breaking West Indian opener Gayle.

Steyn has only taken two for 119 in his two matches so far at the tournament from a win over Zimbabwe and the crushing loss to India.

Gayle was struggling at the start of the competition, making 36 in the defeat by Ireland and just four in the win over Pakistan.

But he roared back to form with his sensational 215 off 147 balls against Zimbabwe in Canberra on Tuesday, the first-ever double century at a World Cup.

Steyn has only dismissed Gayle once in their one-day international clashes.

Steyn will be without his new-ball partner Vernon Philander, who has been ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Gayle says the West Indies will be looking to post their fourth total above 300 in Friday`s game.

So far the West Indies have registered totals of 304 against Ireland, 310 against Pakistan and 372 against Zimbabwe.

"Yeah, that`s a good positive for us, getting 300 runs. It`s been fantastic, it`s a plus for our batting to be able to get 300 runs in three consecutive games," said Gayle.

"So hopefully we can actually go four for four and post a good total."

The West Indies are striking form at the right time after their shock first-up loss to Ireland and then handsomely beating Pakistan and Zimbabwe.

"We`re coming up against a good team. We toured South Africa recently. We know each other, as well," said Gayle.

"It`s going to be a good test. It`s a World Cup event now, so we`re all on neutral ground, so we`ve got to make our best performance speak for ourselves."

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