West Indies v South Africa World T20 Preview – Match 27
West Indies is the more confident side, while the absence of Duminy could hurt South Africa's chances in a must-win clash
24 March 2016 20:25
If you look at history, South Africa holds all the aces when it faces West Indies in Twenty20 Internationals. It has won six of nine matches overall and triumphed both times when the two teams met in a World T20. But come Friday (March 25), it will be the men from the Caribbean who will walk out with a more confident strut in a heavyweight Group 1 clash at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur.
The West Indies is sitting pretty on top of the table, with two wins from as many matches and a very healthy net run-rate. A win here will guarantee it a semifinal spot. South Africa would have been in the same position, had it defended 229 for 4 against England last week. But because of that loss, the South Africans now find themselves in what amounts to a must-win situation if they want to keep their ICC World T20 2016 campaign alive. The team can mathematically still make it if it loses to the West Indies, but will need other results going its way, which is neither a comfortable situation to be in, nor a fulfilling one.
The conditions in Nagpur are going to be vastly different to what South Africa has experienced so far. Although the pitch has been changed to make it more even towards batsmen, it’s unrealistic to expect the nature of the basic square to change drastically in such a short space, and spin to win is likely to still be the mantra for the match.
The absence of the injured JP Duminy will thus hit South Africa harder. Apart from the obvious balance he provides with his all-round skills, Faf du Plessis might have wanted to use his offspin early on to Chris Gayle, who has been susceptible at the start of his innings against the ball that leaves him.
“I think people will see how important JP is to our team now that he’s missing,” said du Plessis. “He’s an allrounder who especially in these conditions plays a role with both bat and ball – not even talking about his experience. There’s a lot of talk that has gone into, especially on who can be doing that sixth bowler’s job as you would need at some time. As a captain, it’s nice to have a guy you can rely on to bowl some overs. So that has created one or two headaches but we’ll hopefully get the right combination.”
In all likelihood, South Africa will include Aaron Phangiso to share the spin burden with Imran Tahir, but that will mean a lengthening of the tail, which puts greater onus on the top order to do well.
For the bowlers, one of the greatest challenges will be bowling to Gayle up front, with the big Jamaican pronounced fit for the match and attending the team nets on match eve too. Gayle’s presence means one of Johnson Charles, who has had a quiet tournament so far, or Andre Fletcher, who filled the breach admirably with a match-winning hand against Sri Lanka, will have to relinquish their spot at the top of the order.
“The good thing is that Gayle is fit,” said Darren Sammy, the West Indies captain. “We knew how well Fletcher was batting coming into the tournament. Charles hasn’t got a score yet but we know how well he can bat. It’s a good headache to have. Whether we let Fletcher or Charles open the batting with Chris, you’ll know tomorrow. We have a fair idea as to who will open the batting tomorrow.”
While the West Indies has the firepower to rattle any team, the ace in South Africa’s camp is AB de Villiers. In the one-day format, the world’s premier batsman has taken a heavy toll off the West Indian bowlers, with the fastest ODI half-century, century and 150. “A line-up of Quinton (de Kock), (Hashim) Amla, Faf, AB, (David) Miller… these are all great players,” acknowledged Sammy. “Yes, we have got the rough end of the stick from AB on a lot of occasions. He is a world-class player but T20 is played on a day when every innings starts fresh. We have our plans for him and we also have some very dangerous guys in our team. At the end of the day, we just have to score one more run than them and we come out victorious.
“I hope it’s an exciting match. Games with West Indies tend to be exciting, so hopefully we keep entertaining the way we have been since the inception of T20 and at the end of the day, get a place in the semifinals.”
A place in the semifinals for one team. Keeping the World T20 dream alive for the other. Each side packed with entertainers and match-winners. No matter the eventual winner, the ones who might end up truly victorious should be the fans.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), AB de Villiers, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Chris Morris, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, David Wiese.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (capt), Samuel Badree, Sulieman Benn, Carlos Brathwaite, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Evin Lewis, Ashley Nurse, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor.