Thursday, September 20, 2007

India-South Africa gears up for another intense contest

Durban: South Africa and India may have won intense games against New Zealand and England respectively on Wednesday but their ability to channelise emotions will be on test again when they come square up in the final group E game in the ICC World Twenty20 tournament at Kingsmed Cricket Ground on Thursday night.

More than the home side, India will be challenged to overcome the heady feeling of thumping England by 19 runs. India needs to keep its wits about itself and secure a victory over South Africa to guarantee itself a semifinal place, the margin determining whether it tops the table or finishes second. A South Africa win take New Zealand along to the semis and send India home.

The Indians, on a high last night after beating England comfortably, know that their task is cut out against South Africa's bowlers. The home side is well aware of the local conditions as it showed when stifling New Zealand after the Black Caps were off to a great start on Wednesday.

With the Indian bowlers being just a shade above adequate, the onus will be on the batters to deliver again if the team is to extend its stay in South Africa. Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have batted really well in the last two games and Yuvraj showed his ominous touch in making a 12-ball 50.

Of the others, Robin Uthappa had one good knock against Pakistan while skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni knows that he has to lift the bar for himself and his team when gets to bat against South Africa which has a clutch of fastmedium bowlers who have all the ability to hit the deck and exploit the bounce that the Kingsmead pitch has offered the bowlers.

If Dhoni has not landed the big hits so far, South African captain Graeme Smith is also due a big score and, with his Nemesis Zaheer Khan missing from the Indian ranks, may breathe easy in his quest for that elusive knock. The Indian bowlers will be well aware of the big hitting Justin Kemp's skill in this format as also those of Herschelle Gibbs and Mark Boucher.

South Africa's allround superiority – and better fielding – will make it the favourite going into the match but the Indians know that they are within hailing distance of a semifinal place and can be expected to give the more experienced home side a run for its money. The good thing is that Dhoni has encouraged his players not to come under pressure in the run up to the game.

The teams:

South Africa (likely) Graeme Smith (captain), Herschelle Gibbs, AB de Villiers, Justin Kemp, Mark Boucher (wicket-keeper), Vernon Philander, Shaun Pollock, Johan van der Wath, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel and Andre Nel.

India (probable) Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain and wicket-keeper), Virender Sehwag, Gautham Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla, S Sreesanth and RP Singh.


No comments: