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26 February 201511:02

South Africa v West Indies Preview, Match 19, Sydney

South Africa has dominated encounters between the sides, but the West Indies, fresh off big wins, is uninhibited at World Cups

South Africa v West Indies Preview, Match 19, Sydney - Cricket News

If this was a bilateral contest, South Africa would be prohibitive favourite, however it seems to struggle in tournaments with top billing.

If you go by numbers alone, Friday’s (February 27) clash in Sydney is one of the biggest mismatches of the tournament. South Africa has dominated the West Indies in recent seasons, winning 16 of their last 18 encounters. The only loss came at Port Elizabeth, in a dead rubber in January. You have to go back to November 2006 for the last time the West Indies won a big game against South Africa.

On that occasion in Jaipur, in the semifinal of the Champions Trophy, Chris Gayle biffed an unbeaten 133 from 135 balls as the West Indies went past a decent total with six overs to spare. That result was also indicative of how the rivalry has played out in global tournaments. South Africa has shaded it 3-2 at the World Cup, and they’re all square at 2-2 in the Champions Trophy, with the last game in Cardiff (2013) ending in a tie.

Gayle’s century against Zimbabwe in Canberra was his first in 15 ODI innings on Australian soil. Three of his 22 hundreds have come against South Africa, but his average drops six points from the career figure against the team. Since that Jaipur epic, his highest score in 13 matches against South Africa has been 45.

Be that as it may, the West Indies is desperate for him to play. He missed the training session on the eve of the game, resting his back, but was expected to be fit for the match. The bigger doubts surrounded Suleimann Benn, who missed the Zimbabwe game and was still on the doubtful list ahead of this one.

South Africa has to replace Vernon Philander, who pulled up with a hamstring injury after bowling just four overs against India. Kyle Abbott, known for his expertise in the slog overs, is the likely replacement. The team will also consider replacing Wayne Parnell, whose nine overs went for 85 against India, with either Farhaan Behardien or Rilee Russouw. Parnell would be the better bowling option on a surface expected to help the quicks a little, while Russouw offers a more explosive and versatile option with the bat.

When these two first met in Christchurch in March 1992, it was one of the most eagerly anticipated matches of the tournament – pitting a nation just returned from apartheid-era isolation with a team that had been at the forefront of black consciousness in sport. On the field, it was a low-scoring game, with Peter Kirsten’s sedate 56 trumping Gus Logie’s aggressive 61. Meyrick Pringle ripped out the top order after Brian Lara had started with two glorious strokes through the off side.

Lara would come back to haunt South Africa twice though. In 1996, his century in Karachi sent the tournament favourite – five out of five and perfect till then – tumbling out in the quarterfinal, while a fabulous 116 at Newlands in 2003 got its tournament got off to the worst possible start.

If this was a bilateral contest, South Africa would be prohibitive favourite. But in tournament situations, it appears to struggle to cope with top-dog billing. The West Indies don’t seem as affected or inhibited. Gayle spoke of there being a score to settle after the 4-1 series defeat in South Africa recently, and it’ll be interesting to see how South Africa responds if subjected to intense pressure early on.


South Africa (likely): Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers (capt), David Miller, JP Duminy, Farhaan Behardien, Rilee Russouw, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Kyle Abbott, Imran Tahir.

West Indies (likely): Chris Gayle, Dwayne Smith, Marlon Samuels, Jonathan Carter, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Lendl Simmons, Darren Sammy, Andre Russell, Jason Holder (capt), Jerome Taylor, Nikita Miller.