Debashish Das previews the second ICC World Twenty20 2014 semi-final between India and South Africa, with both sides bidding to reach the final.
Scores of 86 and 82 are pretty impressive if it is made by an individual batsman but if I say those are team scores, the scenario looks scary.
These are the totals scored by Australia and Pakistan against India and West Indies respectively.
There are a couple of common elements in both of those matches – both matches were played in Mirpur and were day-night games, both the teams (Australia, Pakistan) batted second and of course the Mirpur pitch assisted the spinners. as the tournament is progressing, the pitch in Mirpur is definitely wearing out quite fast but not to the extent that a team cannot cross 100 runs.
These statistics are worrisome for South Africa as they take on India in the second semi-final in Mirpur, Dhaka.
Clearly, the tournament has been dominated by quality spinners and India has plenty of them. Another advantage for India is that they have played all their matches in Mirpur and all were day-night matches too. They are acclimatised to these conditions better than any other teams.
South Africa played all their games in Chittagong where the pitch is a little different as compared to Dhaka and so a little adjustment is required. Fortunately Imran Tahir is bowling beautifully and unfortunately he is the only recognized spinning option for them.
South Africa have been struggling throughout the tournament and should feel lucky to qualify for the semi-finals. They even struggled to beat the Netherlands but the inexperience of the opponent helped them from what could have been a very embarrassing situation.
The Proteas are still uncertain about their opening bowling combination that helped their oppositions to get off to a good start. The team will largely depends on Hashim Amla, JP Duminy and AB de Villiers to post a good total while Dale Steyn and Tahir will hold the key in bowling front.
The problem with them is who will bowl the remaining 12 overs once Steyn and Tahir bowl out? Even though Duminy is a good bowling option in these conditions it’s debatable how effective he will be against this Indian team.
The Morkel brothers have been ineffective and so have the other bowlers. Their best chance against India is to score big and expect some incredible spells from Steyn and Tahir. The Proteas are the better fielding side and that will be an added advantage.
On the other hand, India has mostly covered all of their bases. The return to form of Yuvraj Singh in form is great news for India while their spinners, especially Ravichandran Ashwin and Amit Mishra continue to impress.
With the new ball Bhuvneshwar Kumar looks in good form and playing his swing will be tough initially. The concern for India is their opening combination and if they lose Virat Kohli cheaply, the batting might struggle as we saw in the last match.
Since the Indian spinners are taking wickets regularly during middle overs, bowlers bowling at death are not really under much pressure.
If South Africa can manage to deal with Indian spinners without losing many, the remaining bowlers will feel the heat at death.
But one batsman which the Indian spinners will be wary off is de Villiers, he can play spin and pace with equal authority and nobody has the range of shots he possesses. If he goes berserk, SA will find themselves in good position from where they can dictate terms to India.
Having said that whoever plays better cricket on that day, can handle the pressure better will emerge as winners since there is no dearth of match winners in both the sides.
South Africa has always been very competitive in ICC tournaments but failed to reach the finals on many occasions. They will hope this tournament will rewrite the history but they will be playing against the best team of the tournament and they really have to play out of their skins to beat them.
I will back India to win the match since they have quality spinners who are in great form and South Africa’s incapability to handle pressure in tough situations especially during knockout stages will work in favor of India.
Let the game begin!
© Cricket World 2014