South Africa v West Indies, The Oval, 1230 GMT, ICC World Twenty20 Group E
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By Aaron Kumar
The West Indies face South Africa today at The Oval as the two teams prepare for their second Super Eight encounter of the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 tournament in England.
South Africa have without a doubt been the form team of this year's competition so far; the Proteas brushed aside Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Ireland in their warm-up games, and have now won three games on the bounce in the main event.
The West Indies on the other hand came into this competition bruised and lacking confidence following their 2-0 defeats to England in both the Test and ODI series, but an explosive innings of 88 from 50 balls by Chris Gayle helped the West Indies upset Australia in their opening match of the tournament and the nature of that result would have been extremely encouraging for the men from the Caribbean.
West Indies did lose their other group game to Sri Lanka - Chris Gayle missed that game as he had a knee injury, but with both sides already through to the Super Eights the match was effectively a dead rubber.
Any thoughts that the West Indies momentum might have been stilled following their defeat to Sri Lanka was extinguished by the brilliant Dwayne Bravo, as the Trinidadian all-rounder bowled with great guile and accuracy in picking up four for 38 - he then came into to bat at four and with the West Indies badly needing a big performance he delivered smashing 66 from 36 balls to see the West Indies home and defeat the defending champions by seven wickets.
The two sides also met at the Oval in the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy and much like today, South Africa went in as favourites, and batting first the managed to post a competitive total of 246 largely thanks to a brilliant innings of 101 from Herschelle Gibbs but the West Indies paced their chase extremely well and a well-made 75 from Ramnaresh Sarwan enabled the West Indies to win by five wickets.
The two teams met again in the opening game of the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, and on that occasion Chris Gayle was at his belligerent best smashing 117 from just 57 balls, this is to date the only Twenty20 International century, and Gayle’s innings propelled the West Indies to a formidable total of 205. However, Gibbs once again shone against the men from the Caribbean this time smashing 90 not out from 55 balls as South Africa reached the monumental target with the minimum of fuss winning by eight wickets.
South Africa will once again go into today’s fixture as the favourite - indeed many are making them the favourites to go all the way in this competition but with wins against the best team in the world and the defending champions behind them the West Indies will once again be looking to upset the apple cart.
© Cricket World 2009