ICC T20 World Cup 2012: India vs South Africa - Preview
Colombo: Their campaign is back on track after the morale-boosting win over Pakistan but India can hardly afford to relax as they take on an erratic but still quite intimidating South Africa in their final Super Eight match on Tuesday for a place in the semifinals of the ICC World Twenty20 here.
The fight for the second semi-final slot from group-2 is indeed intriguingly poised as both India and Pakistan have a fair chance of making the cut although Australia seems favourite at the moment.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni admitted that devising a strategy without knowing the result of the Australia versus Pakistan game will be foolhardy as that will help them chart their course of action.
In case Pakistan (-0.426), who are a shade better than India (-0.452) in terms of net run-rate happen to win against Australia, Dhoni and his men will then have to win comprehensively against the South Africans in order to make it to the last four.
If Australia maintain a clean slate in the `Super Eight` by beating Pakistan, the equation will be a lot easier for India as a win will be good enough. Even in case of a defeat against South Africa, India should ensure that they don`t lose by a big margin as the net run rate will come into play with three teams tied with one win each.
South Africa have lost both their matches in contrasting manners -- a close defeat against Pakistan and a comprehensive one against Australia.
AB de Villiers and Co. will now want to end the tournament on a respectable note and think of an outside chance of qualifying although their net run-rate might prove to be a deterrent.
On Tuesday, the Indian team will not only have to deal with a South African team that is keen to maintain its reputation as a world class outfit but also have to counter the threat of a man who knows about them like the back of his hand.
Gary Kirsten, inarguably India`s most successful cricket coach, is now in the opposition ranks and will play a key role in trying to plot the downfall of the `Men in Blue`.
Spin will again play a key role in the match and it will be interesting to see whether Dhoni would go for a second spinner in Harbhajan Singh by dropping senior pro Zaheer Khan.
With the seven-batsman policy paying results and a theory that Dhoni believes in, it remains to be seen whether he would rejig his bowling resources or stick to the winning formula.
The South African batsmen looked distinctly uncomfortable against the off-spin of Mohammed Hafeez and Saeed Ajmal in the match against Pakistan.
Even left-arm slow orthodox bowler Xavier Doherty troubled the Proteas in the last match which will certainly encourage Yuvraj Singh, who has turned into a utility `bowling all-rounder` in this edition of the World T20.
The big question will be whether the Indian skipper will bring in Harbhajan who can be effective considering the South African line-up features two left-handers in Jean-Paul Duminy and Robin Peterson.
The opening woes, however, is a cause of concern for Dhoni as both Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have been scratchy in the tournament.
Sehwag, who was brought back for the Pakistan match, showed his intent to stay at the wicket and should be praised for playing an ideal second fiddle to Virat Kohli during the defining 74-run second wicket partnership.
But at the same time, the senior opener frittered away a good start to get out at a time when he looked good for his first half century of the tournament.
Gambhir made a useful contribution in India`s victory against England but otherwise has had a very quiet tournament.
It will again boil down to the performance of Kohli, who has been the most consistent among the Indian top-order batsmen. The team management also requires Yuvraj Singh to make a significant contribution with the bat as he has been consuming way too many deliveries.
An interesting battle will would be on display when the Indians tackle the fiery pace of Dale Steyn and the disconcerting bounce that Morne Morkel will generate.
In all a mouth-watering clash is on the cards on the final day of the Super Eights.
India: MS Dhoni (c), Gautam Gambhir, Ravichandran Ashwin, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Piyush Chawla, Ashok Dinda, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Virat Kohli, Irfan Pathan, Suresh Raina, Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Yuvraj Singh.
South Africa: A.B. De Villiers (c), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Johan Botha, JP Duminy, Francois du Plessis, Jacques Kallis, Richard Levi, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Justin Ontong, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Match starts at 7.30 pm (IST).