It wasn’t long ago that India couldn’t win an international game in South Africa. But, that would be farthest on their mind when they take on the Proteas in Dhaka on Friday. India have been the most dominant side in the tournament so far, winning all four matches with ease – a performance which has almost been South Africa like. However, that isn’t a factor they would like to seek inspiration from for South Africa have never progressed past the semi-final stage of a World Cup, be it the 50 over version or the 20 over one.
Since India have been so exceptional in the event so far, it would almost be unfair if India bow out following one poor day in the tournament. However, such is nature of sport. Irrespective of what India have done in the past, they will have to put forward their A game again on Friday to book their place in the finals. South Africa, on the other hand, have scraped through with three close wins. But, they will know that one potent performance is all they need to book their place in the finals.
There haven’t been too many causes of worry for India in the event so far, and if they continue in the same vein, they will be in with a great chance of making it through to the summit clash. Spin has been India’s biggest strength in this ICC World T20, with both Amit Mishra and Ravichandran Ashwin exploiting the conditions to the best of their ability. It is well-documented by now that South Africa are poor players of spin. The contest between India’s spinners and South Africa’s batsmen could thus play a decisive role in the final result of the match.
India’s batting hasn’t been tested as much, since their superlative bowling hasn’t allowed India’s batsmen to chase down big scores. This is one area where India could be found out. Speaking of their batting, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are in great form, and India would be hoping for them to come good against the Proteas as well. After a string of poor scores, Yuvraj Singh hit form against the Aussies with a blistering innings, but he injured himself while playing football barefoot a couple of days back. While he is expected to be fit for the semi-final, it remains to be seen whether the niggle will hamper him.
Under the conditions, India would back themselves to get the better of the South Africans in spite of the recent reverses, but South Africa do have a few quality players, who can turn the game on its heads. AB de Villiers has been in sensational form throughout the series, and his excellent record against the Indians would worry the bowlers for sure. Hashim Amla has played a few spunky knocks at the top of the order while Dale Steyn can blow away any opponent on his day with his pace.
India may hold the edge on current form and conditions, but they can ill-afford to have the one bad day.
India and South Africa have faced each other in 7 matches of which India have won 5 and lost 2
South Africa have never progressed past the semi-final stage of any World Cup tournament
Virat Kohli (170) has scored most runs for India while Amit Mishra (9) has picked up most wickets
Hashim Amla (163) is the top run-scorer for South Africa while Imran Tahir (11) has claimed the most number of wickets
--By A Cricket Analyst