Vengeance will be the motivating force for the ‘Men in Blue’ as they meet South Africa in the high-voltage semi-final encounter here at Mirpur’s Shere Bangla National Stadium. Not too long ago, the Proteas tore apart the Indians in the home series which included 3 ODIs and 2 Test matches. Indians were found wanting on the quick, bouncy wickets therein. Acclimatizing to the slow, tired pitches in Bangladesh, however, hasn’t bothered Team India at all.
Coming into this tournament with a series of setbacks on and off the field, not many have expected the Blue Brigade to do well in the group stage itself, leave alone being the favorites. However every time Team India has found itself down in the dumps, it has tended to resurrect in an exemplary fashion – be it after the match-fixing controversy in early 2000s or be it the betting and spot-fixing saga in 2013.
The Indians are in red-hot form in this World T20, having remained undefeated in Super-10 stage. Dhoni’s men have been rather flawless throughout this tourney in all departments of the game. The team has been on a tremendous roll – winning rather comprehensively in each game they play. In fact, as the tourney has progressed, the few blemishes have been ironed out with finesse, catching being the distinctly perceptible one such aspect.
The win against Australia would have relieved the skipper not just because of the opposition it came against, but also because the bowling attack defended a moderate total with ease. Yuvraj’s return to form was the icing on the cake. Meanwhile, it would be quite interesting to note whether he actually plays in this game after the minor injury he suffered in a football session.
Despite his decent showing against the Kangaroos, Mohit Sharma is likely to make way for Mohammad Shami. Shikhar Dhawan’s return, in the place of Ajinkya Rahane, whereas, can’t be guaranteed.
The Proteas haven’t had the desired breathing space in this World T20 right from the word go. Contrary to their infamous reputation of choking at crucial junctures of a match, they managed to hold their nerves in three of their four league games to make it to the last four. This fact will surely invigorate them in this intense knockout clash.
Faf du Plessis would, nevertheless, be concerned about the indifferent form shown by both the batsman and the bowlers. They were staggeringly exposed by the Dutch side who almost gave them a scare in a league game. Except for JP Duminy and to an extent, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, none of the other bats have shown signs of calmness and assurance at the crease.
The bowling attack, as a unit, isn’t going great guns either. Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir have helped them pull off wins out of daunting situations. Lonwabo Tsotsobe has been pretty ordinary throughout this tournament and it won’t come as a surprise if he is made to sit out in this game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
1. Amit Mishra: Mishra’s second innings in international cricket has been nothing short of sensational. He has fearlessly flighted the ball and got the ball to turn square. Having picked up 9 wickets in 4 matches, he will be Dhoni’s go-to bowler in key situations.
2. Virat Kohli: Kohli is in terrific touch and is utilizing the same to the fullest by finishing the matches for India. His wicket will be highly prized by the Saffers’ pacers.
1. Dale Steyn : Steyn has taken some beating in his first spells of the league games only to come back hard at the death. His fast deliveries have been found hard to dispatch despite being pitched on length. He will be the ultimate force to reckon with for the Indian batters.
2. AB de Villiers: The South African batting’s heart lies in ABD. This orthodox yet unorthodox player didn’t start off well enough in this tourney; though the 28-ball 69 in the last game against England means that he has peaked at the right time, much to the horror of the Indians.
- Indians have won 5 out of the 7 T20Is between the two outfits.
- This is the second time that South Africa plays India in an ICC event’s semi-final. The first being the ICC Champions Trophy back in 2002.
- Yuvraj Singh has a T20I career strike rate if 148.81. However in this tournament up till now, it has been just 110.90.
India : W W W W W – Team India is in rattling form having won all their last 5 games.
South Africa : W W W L L – After suffering a close defeat on the hands of Sri Lanka, the Proteas have bounced back in a splendid manner, having won 3 games on the trot.
India: MS Dhoni(c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, VIrat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Mohammad Shami.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis(c), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, David Miller, Albie Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, Morne Morkel.