What a shocker of a week it has been! Champions Trophy has turned over it’s head.
First Pakistan rose to the occasion & beat mighty South Africans, thanks to Duckworth Lewis, then Sri Lanka sent shock waves through Indian Camp in their highest ODI chase ever & in the history of Champions Trophy. Meanwhile, in the other group, Bangladesh defied all odds to beat New Zealand & get those crucial 2 points. In another news, Afganistan rocked West Indies batting lineup in an ODI, with Rashid Khan picking up fourth best ODI bowling figures of 7-18.
It’s difficult to imagine Champions Trophy semis without either of Australia, South Africa or India but it seems now at least one or two of the team will not make the cut to semis. For Australia, their fate lies in their own hand against England.They win and they march to semis, they lose and they catch the next flight.
The clash of India vs South Africa is somewhat of virtual quarterfinals. The last time South Africa met India in Champions Trophy in 2013; India got home comfortably thanks to century runs stand from India’s opening pair Dhawan-Sharma, where Shikhar Dhawan got 114. In 2014 ICC T-20 World Cup, India beat South Africa by 6 wickets & in 2012 T-20 World Cup, India got home winning by 1 runs against the same opponent.
Let look at last 5 clashes of India & South Africa, the last time they faced South Africa in an ODI, South Africa won series in India 3-2 with centuries from Amla, Dekock, Faf Duplessis & AB De Villiers.
In ICC World Cup in 2015, India won against South Africa by more than 100 runs. Clearly, when it comes to ICC events, India has upper hand in last 4-5 years, which makes India favourites to start for their next clash. India’s fielding was poor and tad unlucky you can say, when it came to edges as they dropped half chances & top edges dropped in between the fielders.
The bowling was surprisingly poor given the bowler’s form and repute. May be they underestimated the Lankans and given the long history of youngsters doing well against India, Sri Lanka would have fancied their chances more so against India than any other side.
But both teams know each other very well, having played against each other and as teammates in IPL. In fact, the skipper of both sides has been teammates for over 4 years now and very good friends off the field.
When in comes to batting departments, both sides looks evenly matched with Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh on one side and Hashim Amla, Quinton De Kock, AB Devillers, Faf Du Plessis, David Miller on other side. The bowling is led by Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada, Wayne Parnell, Chris Morris, Imran Tahir in South African camp and Bhuvanshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, R Jadeja, R Ashwin in Indian counterpart.
On paper, this promises the clash of the titans, its really difficult to really pinpoint what could differentiate one team from another. Don’t be surprised to see Ravi Ashwin in the lineup as South Africans are traditionally not known to be the best players of spin. Ashwin’s good record against De Villiers will surely tilt the balance in his favour. ABD will play for sure in all likelihood even if he is at 60% of his fitness. His name just sent shivers sent down other team bowling lineup. Given his appetite to win an ICC Trophy for years now, De Villiers will surely make the cut.
Mohammad Shami should come in as well given his record against Amla, his ability to bowl well at death something which Umesh Yadav lacked the last match.
When it comes to fielding Faf DuPlessis, JP Duminy, AB Devillers, David Millers have been few of greatest fielders over the year. While India hasn’t been far behind they have fantastic fielders in Ravi Jadeja who has the best arm in the world and his run out of Shoaib Malik against Pakistan was a testimonial to that. MS Dhoni behind the stump is unique in his ways of stumping and at the moment Best keeper in the world.
India’s fielding hasn’t been good in last 2 matches probably due to rustiness but they cannot afford another slip up against South Africa.
All in all, it promises to be a great contest, both team bat deep till no. 9 & has a great bowling & fielding individuals. It will come down to which teams hold it’s nerve on that particular day & South Africans haven’t been very good at that historically. But here is the chance to change all that tomorrow. India will start as favourites tomorrow but as past week games have shown, a tag matters no more when you step on the field. We should expect an absolute cracker of a game.
Written by Saurabh Gandle, who is a regular follower of cricket and Sports-nova. He loves to read, analyse & write on the gentleman’s game.
Photo by ftbester