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India will be cautious, but not wary of South Africa

SPORT » CRICKET

DHAKA, April 3, 2014

Updated: April 3, 2014 23:21 IST

Press club Of India, Indian Tehelka News

Spinners hold the key for the former champion; the Proteas’ bowling group could see a shake-up

Just like that, Indian cricket’s joyless winter has faded away, to be replaced by bold summer hope under the Dhaka sun.

In amenable environs, India has thrived again, bestriding a competition it first won all those years ago. M.S. Dhoni was long-haired and free-spirited then; his beard is flecked with grey now – as he pointed out last week – and his face careworn. He leads India into the semifinals of the ICC World Twenty20 for a second time; his legacy, already established, will only be glossier if his men can conquer two more hurdles.

But whatever the outcome of Friday’s meeting with South Africa at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium, this will have been a good tournament. While the disappointment of fruitless tours to New Zealand and South Africa may not be forgotten, there will be pride and relief for India in its dominance here: none of its four opponents has stood up against it.   All that exuberant performance has been built on the exploits of its spinners, superior in quality to any South Africa has faced this last month in Bangladesh. Amit Mishra and R. Ashwin have 16 wickets between them already; life will not be simple for the Proteas. A.B. de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, and J-P. Duminy have all faced them in the IPL, but it still won’t make batting easy.

Besides its spinners, India has been well-served by the understated Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who despite bowling at the start and the close, has gone at 4.33 runs an over.

Shami or Mohit?

In choosing a second pace-bowler, India has a decision to make. Mohammed Shami was rested for the last game with Australia, when his replacement, Mohit Sharma, impressed on T20 international debut. Shami is quick but often inaccurate, while Mohit is inexperienced at this level. It is something the captain will ponder over. South Africa’s approach to batting has been evident: Hashim Amla — who has scores of 56, 43, and 41 in his last three appearances at the wicket — drops anchor at one end, with the rest to bat around him. de Villiers bats at either one or two drop; his position, as du Plessis explained, is not bound to the batting order but the stage of the innings.

de Villiers was in top, mesmerising form against England in the last game as South African rattled up 196 in 20 overs — the highest total of the tournament. It will concern Dhoni, for de Villiers is not the sort to be affected by bowling and fielding plans. The young wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock has failed to make a mark; this will delight India, for it was only in December that he struck three hundreds in a row against it.

South Africa’s bowling group could see a shake-up in response to conditions in Dhaka. The left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso or the fast bowler Morne Morkel could earn a recall.

Its primary weapons with ball, however, have been Imran Tahir and Dale Steyn. The leg-spinner thrived in Chittagong, bagging 11 wickets with his skidding, sliding deliveries. It remains to be seen how much success he will find here.

Cash in on Powerplay

For all that, South Africa has conceded scores of 51, 47, 63 and 62 in the Powerplay overs. It is something India’s openers will be eager to make the most of. Shikhar Dhawan, who was left out for Ajinkya Rahane in the last game, could be recalled.

Yuvraj Singh’s seeming return to form will be great news; the left-hander trained on Thursday, having sat out the previous session as precaution, and is fit to play. With Yuvraj’s half-century, it appears India has managed to locate another piece of the jigsaw.

When it takes the field on Friday evening, India will be cautious, but not wary.

The teams (from):

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt.), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina,  Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Mohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Stuart Binny, and Varun Aaron.

South Africa: Faf du Plessis (capt.), Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, J-P Duminy, AB de Villiers, David Miller, Wayne Parnell, Dale Steyn, Beuran Hendricks, Aaron Phangiso, Imran Tahir, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, and Farhaan Behardien.

(From : The Hindu)

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