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CT 2017, Match 11, IND v SA Preview: A battle of two equally balanced sides in a virtual quarter-final

It promises to be one heck of a match as two giants of the game are up against each other

India
India. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

A great encounter awaits as India take on South Africa in what would be the final match for both sides in the group stage. A semi-final spot is up for grabs and the winner will book a place in the next round. The loser books a ticket too but that would be for a flight back home. It promises to be a cracker of a game where two of the top sides in the world are up against each other.

The venue for the match will be the Kennington Oval in London which has witnessed a number of high scoring encounters. Given the strength in the batting line-up of both sides, this one could well be a run-feast. Both teams possess fearsome bowling attacks too but given the way the bowlers have been pelted at the Oval, it will be a stern test for them.

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The big question remains about the weather. The tournament has been majorly hit by multiple rain interruptions. But the good news here is that, according to the weather predictions, it’s going to remain clear for the most part of the day with a slight chance of rain.

The defending champions made a sizzling start to their campaign when they got the better of the arch-rivals Pakistan in the first game. But they were stunned by their other neighbors – Sri Lanka in the next match. The batting has done pretty well in both matches. The bowlers too did a great job against Pakistan but looked clueless when the Sri Lankan batsmen went after them.

South Africa, on the other hand, found a similar pattern in their match results. They defeated Sri Lanka in a one-sided encounter but suffered a big defeat at the hands of Pakistan. Now they find themselves in a critical situation where a slight lapse might knock them out of the tournament. The Proteas are known to choke in pressure games but would the pattern change this time, remains to be seen.

Toss: India won the toss & elected to field first

Captains speak

Virat Kohli: “We are going to bowl. Teams have been chasing well. The wicket should stay the same throughout the game. We’ll know exactly what to do when we come out to bat. We have batted pretty well in both the games. Just that we couldn’t defend it last game, maybe we were 15-20 short. Ashwin comes in for Umesh.”

AB de Villiers: “I am pretty happy batting first. We have had success in this tournament here batting first against Sri Lanka. He (Kohli) is a good man. We get along really well. Phehlukwayo comes in for Parnell.”

Playing XI

South Africa: Quinton de Kock(w), Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers(c), David Miller, Jean-Paul Duminy, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir

India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli(c), Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni(w), Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah

Focus will be on

Virat Kohli

The Indian skipper wasn’t in the best of forms coming into the tournament. In the first match, he struggled to time the ball but found his touch as soon as he went past 50. He then went on to make 81 off 68 balls that took his side past 300. But he got out on a duck against Sri Lanka and was furious with himself. Going by Kohli’s attitude, he will come out hard against the Proteas.

Ravichandran Ashwin

The off-spinner didn’t find a place in the XI in the first 2 games. But after a poor show by the Indian bowlers versus Sri Lanka, there are speculations that Ashwin might be slotted in the line-up. South Africa were troubled by the Pakistani spinners in the last game and Ashwin would be expected to do the same to them.

AB de Villiers

Mr. 360 has been terribly out of form in the tournament. He was dismissed for just 4 in the match and then suffered his first ever golden duck in ODIs. Despite that, the focus will always be on the South African skipper and given his brilliant record against India, he would be the prime locus of the team.

Kagiso Rabada

The 22-year-old has been a revelation in South African scheme of things. From being just a teenage bowler, he has gone on to become the number 1 ranked ODI bowler in the world. He can bowl fast and swing the ball which is a lethal combination. Given the vulnerability of the Indian batsmen against short deliveries, we might see some chin music from Rabada.

Team Combinations

India

The batting of India has done wonders in the 2 games so far. They managed to notch up scores of over 300 on both occasions. The openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan constructed back to back hundred partnerships. The middle order comprising of Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni, all have played a decent knock each. Kedar Jadhav is expected to make way for Ashwin that would mean Hardik Pandya will have an added responsibility at the death.

The bowlers did a superb job in dismantling Pakistan line-up but were found shell-shocked when the Sri Lankans went after them. Against South Africa, spin to win might be the order of the day and hence, Ashwin and Jadeja will have their works cut out. Not just the spinners, pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah will have a key role to play as well.

South Africa

The openers Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock were on a roll against Sri Lanka but their failure at the top versus Pakistan meant that the whole team suffered. Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy and David Miller combine to form a daunting middle order but it remains to be seen whether they would turn up in the crunch game. They might face a task of handling the spinners and would have to come good big time.

The bowling was spearheaded by Morne Morkel in the last game who claimed 3 Pakistani wickets. The other pacers Rabada, Chris Morris and Wayne Parnell must go for the short stuff as Indian players traditionally don’t handle the bounce pretty well. But if they falter, the strong batting of Indian will certainly punish them. Imran Tahir holds the key as Indian batsmen haven’t played the spinners that well in the recent times.

Stats Attack

3 – India have managed to win all 3 games against South Africa in CT history.

– Out of the last 6 centuries by Indian openers Dhawan and Rohit, 5 have ended in a losing cause.

40 – Dhawan and Rahane are the only 2 batsmen in the Indian line-up to have an average of above 40 versus SA. Dhawan averages 43.22 while Rahane averages 47.71 vs SA in ODIs.

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