India and South Africa clash in one of the most important games in group B. The tournament is nearing towards the business end of the group stages and the teams would be mindful that their position in the table is equally important. India with two decent wins against the Irish and the Dutch are currently perched prettily at the top of the rankings and would want to remain there with another win. South Africa on the other hand would want to get their campaign back on track after their disappointing loss against England.
South Africa will be hurt by the injury to Imran Tahir who has been brilliant so far in this world cup. I don’t think SA would want to risk playing him with injury as they would want him to be fit for the knockout stages. The Indian team combination though is still anybody’s guess. If we go by what Dhoni said after India’s win against Netherlands, it seems like Ravichandran Ashwin might finally get a chance against the proteas replacing Piyush Chawla and Ashish Nehra might retain his place in the side at the expense of Munaf Patel. The batting though will remain unchanged barring any injuries.
South Africa would probably play Botha in the place of injured Tahir and the rest of the team should remain the same. The biggest contest of Saturday’s game is going to be between the Indian openers and Dale Steyn. Steyn hasn’t been all that effective in the limited overs format in the past but Smith would want him to be at his best against a strong Indian batting line up. Sachin and Sehwag both have been in tremendous touch and India would be hoping that they give them a good start once again.
The middle order will be under scrutiny this time as in both their previous games, the Indians slipped from comfortable situation to 4 down within no time. They will have to guard against the same against a much stronger South African outfit. Zaheer will again be the important cog in India’s bowling wheel along with Bajji. Bajji would want to get back to his wicket taking ways as along with Ashwin/Chawla, Yuvraj and Pathan he will be important in restricting South Africa’s progress in the middle overs.
This will be the biggest test for the Indian team and a win most certainly put them at the top of the table. Smith knows that losing this game will put enormous pressure on his team and for sure would want to guard against the same. All in all this is going to be a cracker of a game and it will be interesting to see what kind of strategy the teams will adopt for this important group B fixture. Both these teams know each other’s game pretty well as they were at loggerheads just recently in a full series. Both the teams are pretty even and I would say that there are no clear favorites in this match up. One thing is for certain though, the team which bowls better on this Nagpur belter will for sure be the winners.
I have decided to group England and South Africa together as both of them have lots in common. Both the teams are yet to win the tournament and would be keen to set the record straight. England who reached the World Cup finals on three occasions would want to go one step further this time if they get another chance and South Africa would want to be in the finals for the first time.
If we look at both the teams, they haven’t had a great year in the shorter format. England reach the world cup after a 6-1 loss against the Aussies and South Africa with a hard fought 3-2 win against the Indians. Both the teams have some exciting players in the X1 and have a good balanced bowling attack. South Africa comprises of a very strong batting line up led by Smith and Amla at the top. The middle order consists of Kallis, Devilliers, Ingram and Duminy followed by Mark Boucher. So a very strong batting line up capable of raking up huge scores on flat subcontinent wickets. The bowling too is extremely potent with Dale Steyn and Morkel leading the pace attack. The spin bowling also received a great boost with the inclusion of Imran Tahir (Leg Spinner) along with Johan Botha.
That lends an excellent balance to an attack which normally is pace heavy. So I would say on papers the proteas are one of the strongest contenders for the title. They bat deep and also have an attack which can be dangerous on these wickets. So overall I would say South Africa has come with the best combination to succeed on these wickets for the first time and they would like to make the most of it. England also has a similar team to the Proteas. Pieterson and Trott give them the solidity in the middle order along with Collingwood and Morgan (If he does play). Strauss is a calm head at the top and the captain would surely want to lead from the front. The English bowling has great balance with Anderson leading the pace attack and Swann leading the tweakers.
Swann being arguably the best spinner in the world at the moment will be a huge advantage for the English. He also has featured in a full series to the subcontinent in the past which should give him an advantage to bowl in these conditions. All in all both the teams have an excellent chance to make it to the semis but it all depends on their temperament. Both these teams have had chances in the past but have not been able to grab the same and have faltered at the crucial stages. So Smith and Strauss will be mindful of the fact and would want to make this world cup memorable for their respective teams.