With Australia having secured their place in the final, West Indies and South Africa will battle it out on Friday for the other spot in the final. A win for West Indies against Australia in the previous encounter would have given them a slot in the finale. They had their chances in the match, but the Aussies were inspired enough to overcome the Windies challenge on the day. As a result, the West Indies are now left with the task of facing a tough challenge against South Africa to book their spot. The washout against Australia has made life tough for South Africa as well, as they too find themselves in a must-win situation.
The first time these two teams met in the tournament opener, West Indies managed to upset the Proteas. Sunil Narine claimed six wickets while Kieron Pollard blasted a half-century. Both these players were making a comeback, so it was a perfect start for them to the series in every sense. Since, things haven't gone according to plan. In the return game against South Africa, they got thrashed mercilessly. And, while they did manage to register a victory against Australia in impressive fashion, the Aussies got a sweet revenge in the last clash between the sides, in the process ensuring West Indies need to beat South Africa to progress.
Narine will be among the keys for the hosts if they want to overcome South Africa. The Proteas' weakness against spin was exposed thoroughly by Narine in the first match. But, while he has been effective since, he hasn't looked all that threatening. Marlon Samuels is another in-form player West Indies will be looking up to. Having smashed 92 and 125 in the two games against Australia, his confidence will be on an all-time high. Denesh Ramdin also played a superb knock in a losing cause against Australia. The top three of Andre Fletcher, Johnson Charles and Darren Bravo also need to fire.
Although South Africa haven't played a match for a few days owing to the fact that their encounter against the Aussies was washed out due to rain, they would still be brimming with confidence. There were some sensational performances by individuals the last time these two teams met. Imran Tahir scalped a booty of seven wickets as the visitors streamrolled the hosts without too much trouble. He will be raring to go again. Then, there is also Hashim Amla, who came up with a quality hundred in an impressive victory. Quinton de Kock struggled, but he too was among the runs.
South Africa do have a problem though. Their batting, apart from the match against West Indies, really hasn't fired as it ought to have. More will thus be expected of Amla and de Kock again. AB de Villiers rarely has a poor series, but this tri-series has proved that he is only human. He still has time to leave his mark on the tournament though. Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy haven't performed to potential so they will be looking to change that. The successful return of Chris Morris is a definite plus for the Proteas. The bowlers, including Aaron Phangiso, have done well. So, South Africa will be looking forward to a good game.
--By A Cricket Analyst