India looks to seal semi-final berth; South Africa, a mighty challenge
By Indraneel Chakrabarty: The Indians would seem strong favourites, given their recent form. They have recently out-gunned the South Africans, albeit at home, with nearly the same team mix. India announced their arrival, roaring to victory over arch-rivals Pakistan.
Next, a clinical win over the Netherlands. Something, however, feels different about South Africa; a side which appeared a bit tired weeks earlier now has a glint of hunger in their game.
India’s batters are happily bubbling with confidence, with most heavyweights among runs. The team would be carefully strategizing to secure a victory against South Africa, considering the familiarity based on their multiple encounters this year. So, while India will want to win this contest, South Africa must avoid making their other big match against Pakistan a do-or-die contest.
Virat Kohli is just 28 runs shy of breaking Mahela Jayawardene’s record of being the highest run-scorer in the T20I World Cups. Kohli, whose tournament form is a top-gear form with the biggest stage being a clear motivator, would be aware that another significant contribution will go a long way to sealing India’s place in the knock-outs.
India is unlikely to disturb its winning combination.
Indian XI (probable): KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma (c), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Axar Patel, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik (wk), R Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh.
Besides New Zealand, they are the only team to have scored over 200 runs against lesser-rank teams. While they do have the dangerous QDK amidst their ranks, they are yet to face sterner tests at the hands of more reputed opponents such as India and Pakistan, whose attacks are capable of posing searing questions. South Africa’s bowling attack, spear-headed by Kagiso Rabada, can prove equally devastating.
Rilee Rossouw, only the 2nd player after France’s Gustav McKeon to score back-to-back hundreds in T20Is, now has the opportunity to score successive 100s against India too. He scored more runs in T20Is in 2022 than he did between 2014-2016 combined. As skipper Temba Bavuma’s woeful form is under the microscope, Rossouw’s runs continue to fuel the South African top order.
South Africa could opt for a fourth specialist pacer, between Lungi Ngidi or their allrounders Marco Jansen or Wayne Parnell. A trickier call would be between Bavuma and in-form Reeza Hendricks for the top order. Skipper Bavuma maybe persisted with, only just, so he rediscovered his form sooner than later.
South African XI (probable): Quinton de Kock (wk), Temba Bavuma (c), Rilee Rossouw, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Tristan Stubbs, Wayne Parnell/Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Kagiso Rabada.
The pacers would drool at the prospect of the bouncy green top loaded with pace and early swing. Both attacks, however, would be wary of getting carried away. Though it appears green, it’ll host the day’s 2nd match, post-Netherlands Vs Pakistan.
In Perth, hard bowling lengths hold the key. The batters would be tasked with run-scoring on a big outfield, requiring additional muscle work to convert 1s and 2s. to 2s and 3s. The average 1st innings score is 143 runs, with 200+ runs only being crossed at this ground once, three weeks earlier during an Eng. Vs Aus. Clash.
The possibility of rain is speculated at 14% and will likely dwindle to just 4% by the time the match starts.
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Team-wise Match History (last five matches)
South Africa: W-W-L-L-W
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In their 5 T20I World Cups encounters, India has bested South Africa, winning 4, including Mirpur’s semi-final (2014). South Africa’s lone win came at Nottingham in (2009).