Spin will again play a key role
by Asher Wilson

Scorecard:India v South Africa
Event:ICC World Twenty20 2012/13

DateLine: 2nd October 2012


India vs South Africa
World T20 2012
Super Eight Stage
Match Preview


India vs South Africa match is going to be very important for both the teams. Both want to win to remain in the tournament. A Pakistan victory over Australia in the first game of the day will make sure that the AB de Villiers-led team is knocked out, leaving them to play 'spoilers' for India. The Men in Blue will then have to win by a big enough margin to get past their arch-rivals on net run rate. So the whole scene of progress to semi finals has become very complicated with not just wins being the deciding factor. By the time India and South Africa head out on to the turf at the R Premadasa Stadium today, they will know exactly where they stand with regards to qualifying for the semi-finals.


India's T20 World Cup campaign is back on track after riding high on a victory over Pakistan but India can hardly afford to relax as they take on an erratic but still quite intimidating albeit under-pressure South Africa in the last super-eights encounter. A win is a must for India to have a good chance of qualifying for the semis.


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. 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 too big 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 loss 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.


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, unarguably 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 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.


South Africa's main pacers, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, are two of the best in the world in any format. But not only are the batsmen used to facing them in the Indian Premier League, their extra pace could actually work against South Africa, as shown by Pakistani tailender Umar Gul's rapid 32 in their first Super Eights game.


There is a sort of impression about the South African team that they give up even before the match ends. They allow the pressure to become unbearable. Their loss against Pakistan was difficult to decipher and Pakistan snatched the victory from jaw of defeat. Despite top class bowling Pakistani tailenders were able to score freely, giving a blow to South Africanís chances. Their loss against Australia, the only undefeated team of the group was more one-sided as Australia first bowled them out cheaply and then went on to win the match with huge margin.


Their main problem is the lack of a batsman who takes responsibility and plays a long inning by trying to stay at the crease for at least 10-15 overs. So far that has remained a dream for South African team. Neither Hashim Amla, nor Kallis or any other batsman has been able to do so having struggled to 133 and 146 in their two games. The key to restricting them has been the deployment of extra spinners like Pakistan's Raza Hasan and Australia's Xavier Doherty.


But today history seems to be in Indiaís side as the team has won four out of the six T20 matches both teams have played in the past. But that can change if South Africa comes up with exceptional show today.


India (from): 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 (from): 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.

(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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