South Africa will look to release themselves from the major tournament 'chokers' tag when they take on India at Mirpur for the right to join Sr Lanka in the final of the T20 World Cup.
In the pick of the two semi-finals, world 50 over champions India and the ICC number one ranked Test nation South Africa collide and both sides ooze class. Despite their contrasting passages through to the semi-final stage it is another difficult fixture to call in what should be an intriguing battle.
If the thought of this gripping match-up doesn't get your attention then let me help you - AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli, Hashim Amla, Yuvjaj Singh, Mehendar Singh Dhoni, Quinton de Kock, Dale Steyn, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Aswin and Imran Tahir - nothing more really needs to be said.
India have been in cruise control through the Super 10s, brushing aside Pakistan, the West Indies, Bangladesh and Australia in emphatic fashion. South Africa, meanwhile, opened up their campaign with a tight loss to Sri Lanka and then stuttered to wins over New Zealand, the Netherlands and England. However, all of those results are no longer important as whoever performs on the day will secure the final berth.
The balance may lie slightly in favour of the Indians if you take under consideration the sub-continent wickets, although South Africa have several players that have performed to the very highest level in the IPL which levels matters.
Much of the attention will be focused on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, who are without question the two best batsman in world cricket. Both players are box office and what is most impressive is their ability to adapt their games to the shorter format by playing proper cricket shots as opposed to the power slogging that seems to have become a trademark of the game.
Kohli has an extraordinary set of statistics on ODI and T20 cricket which truly underlines his class and credentials. The Delhi born right-hander averages more than 50 in ODI cricket with 19 centuries while his T20 numbers are even more impressive with an average of just shy of 40 and a strike rate of 128.
De Villiers has been in dominant form over the last 2 years in all formats. He tops the rankings in Test cricket by some distance and is second behind Kohli in the ODI rankings with an average of 50 which includes 16 centuries. In T20 cricket he is 3 runs shy of clocking up 1000 international runs at an average of 23 at a strike rate of 125. Take into account his contribution in the field as the word's best and the Proteas have more than just a match winner in their ranks.
These two are not the only world class performers in their respective sides. For South Africa, Hashim Amla and Quinton de Knock provide the Proteas with a class opening base at the top of the order. Amla has been at the forefront of all the rankings over the last few years while the 20 year old De Kock has burst onto the international scene of recent times something India will be aware of after they were on the receiving end of three consecutive centuries by the left-hander during their recent ODI series.
Faf du Plessis is playing with more confidence than ever before brought on by his elevation and success in the Test arena. JP Duminy has plenty of experience and his match winning 86 against New Zealand suggests that he is in top form.
David Miller and Albie Morkel are power hitters for the Proteas and although neither of them have fired as of yet, both have a proven track record in the IPL that would have grabbed the Indian attention.
In the bowling department, South Africa have a variety of resources to call upon. The left-arm pace of Wayne Parnell has caused a few problems to the right-handers while Albie Morkel mixes his pace up well. The Indian batting will certainly look to target the inexperienced Hendricks as they might find it difficult against the 8 overs due to be delivered by the outstanding duo of Steyn and Tahir.
Steyn is one of the few fast bowlers that has mastered the subcontinent conditions but then one would expect that from a fast bowler that has topped the rankings for the last 5 years. Spin has proved key in this tournament and Tahir has provided that for the Proteas. He was the leading wicket taker in the Super 10s and a very attacking spinner that is not afraid to bowl it straight with a host of tricks that many batsman have struggled to pick, especially his googly which turns sharply. His performance today will be crucial as only JP Duminy is the other capable spinner in their ranks.
Like South Africa, India are a class act with both bat and ball. Kohli was the leading run scorer in the Super 10's while Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina offer an abundance of quality and experience.
With the ball Mohammed Shami is vastly improved had has done a lot of bowling over the last 2 years however it is the spinners that could very well hold the key to the result with Ashwin, Jajeda and Mishra combining for more than 70% of their wickets taken.
How the Proteas batsman deal with the spin onslaught could very well be the defining moment of the match.
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