Having both endured first-up defeats at the T20 World Cup, South Africa and the West Indies meet in Dubai on Tuesday, staring down the prospects of falling too far behind in the semi-final race.
Desperate to catch up in their respective campaigns, both teams will be looking for improvements on the batting side of the equation, curtailed by opposition bowling in their first-match efforts.
Restricted to 118-9 in their 20 overs against Australia, the Proteas’ performance was somewhat helped by a confident effort in the field, taking the match to its final over in a five-wicket defeat.
While Temba Bavuma’s men cushioned a potentially crippling net run- rate blow, the same cannot be said for Kieron Pollard’s West Indies, who were crushed by England in just 8.2 overs in the chase after posting a meagre target of 56. Having seemingly recovered from losing two early wickets, a collapse of 28-8 pushed the West Indies out of the game, unable to hit back against an English attack firing on all cylinders.
With not enough on the board to defend, Pollard almost used the England innings to allow Akeal Hosein to find a rhythm at the bowling crease. A late inclusion in the squad after injury forced Fabian Allen out of the tournament, Hosein found his groove, taking two excellent catches off his own bowling to finish with figures of 2-24 off four overs.
Hosein’s performance was the sole positive from the West Indies’ effort, though vibes in the group look positive, shaking the result off as an aberration. Looking back at tournament history, the West Indies fell to Afghanistan at the end of the Super 10 phase during their 2016 campaign, before victories over India and England to claim their second title in the event.
Between the two combatants in this upcoming fixture, however, it is South Africa with the edge. The teams faced off in a five-match T20I series earlier in the year in Grenada, with the tourists claiming a see-sawing series 3-2. A one-run victory in the third match proved the difference, with South Africa winning all their matches batting first.
The series was the first for Bavuma as skipper, passing his first test on the back of smart bowling, and the work of Quinton de Kock with the bat. Posting at least 160 in all four of the matches in the series batting first, De Kock’s 255 series runs (at 51.00, strike rate 141.66) was complemented by contributions around him, most notably Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen.
On the West Indian side, the series was used to experiment with the batting lineup, though questions of frailties against spin bowling went largely unanswered, as Tabraiz Shamsi caused havoc. Claiming seven wickets across the five matches at an economy of four, Pollard’s men may need a different plan of attack against the wrist-spinner.
Tuesday’s match begins at 12am (SA time).
Possible South Africa XI: Quinton de Kock, Temba Bavuma (c), Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi.
Possible West Indies XI: Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Kieron Pollard (c), Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Hayden Walsh Jnr, Obed McCoy, Ravi Rampaul.