Five talking points ahead of South Africa’s crunch game against the West Indies in Nagpur on Friday.
South Africa have made some strange calls in the tournament so far. Dale Steyn was left out for the game against Afghanistan and so was Aaron Phangiso, the one game of the group stage that you would have expected him to play. Now South Africa go into a must-win game against West Indies with an undercooked Steyn, who was injured for three months before the tournament and is probably low on confidence, and a spinner who has had to alter his bowling action only weeks before the World Cup started. That is assuming both will play on Friday, but it will be baffling if only one or neither do.
The bowlers have to step up. They were woeful at times against England and Afghanistan and with Chris Gayle looming they will have to be more consistent in landing the ball in the right areas. On the lower, turning wicket in Nagpur massive scores of over 200 are unlikely, which means the bowlers won’t have as much leeway and freedom as they did previously.
Batsmen under pressure
Watching South Africa bat has been a pleasure, but the unreliability of the bowling attack puts the batters under even more pressure to get things right on Friday. The top five are as good as you can probably get in this format and they will have to continue that, in case the bowlers let the team down again.
History counts for nothing
South Africa have played West Indies nine times in T20Is since 2007 and has won six of those encounters. The last time they met was in a three-match series in South Africa more than a year ago, which the Windies won 2-1. It doesn’t matter. South Africa beat England in a home series 2-0 just a few weeks before the tournament and still lost to them in the opening game failing to defend 229! Where history will play a role, is AB de Villiers’ domination of West Indies bowling attacks in the past, even if it was in the 50-over format. Gayle has a similar effect on opposition bowlers, so it will be interesting to see which team executes their bowling plans better.
If South Africa win both their remaining matches, their only possibility of getting knocked out is a three-way tie if they fall behind on the net run-rate against West Indies and England. If they beat West Indies and lose to Sri Lanka, they get knocked out if Afghanistan lose to West Indies. If they lose to West Indies and prevail over Sri Lanka, they will get eliminated if England beat Sri Lanka. But if Sri Lanka manage to beat England, there will be a three-way tie between South Africa, England and Sri Lanka. If the Proteas lose both their matches, they will be eliminated.