India find themselves in troubled water after losing their previous encounter against Sri Lanka and now in need of an emphatic win to make it to the semi-final. India play their ultimate league stage encounter against South Africa on Sunday, which is a virtual quarter-final and the winner of this high-voltage clash will advance to the semi-final. Pakistan opened up the competition in Group B by beating the consistent South African side and then Sri Lanka created a massive upset by beating India.
India now have a mountain to climb against the formidable South African side and will certainly have to bring their best game out in order to beat them. One can also expect South Africa to come out all guns blazing in a do-or-die game for them and the battle between these two teams will be mesmerising to watch. Both the swords are equally sharpened and The Oval is all set to witness some intense cricket action. India will have to focus on certain key aspects in the high-voltage encounter in order to emerge victorious, let’s introspect it one by one.
Bowling has been India’s strength going into the tournament and the Indian bowlers have done a commendable job in the recent times. India have developed into a dominant bowling attack riding on a formidable pace attack. But their bowling attack didn’t look effective against the aggression of young Sri Lankan batsmen. South Africa would have certainly taken a note of it and will look to adopt similar approach against the Indian bowlers. India will certainly look to pull up on that front and put up a good show with the ball. India scalped just a solitary wicket against Sri Lanka, which was taken by Bhuvneshwar Kumar. They would want early wickets at the top and put South Africa on the back foot.
Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla are big match players and reckoned for their ability to play long innings, India would certainly not want them to get big scores at the top and lay a solid foundation for the explosive middle-order to capitalise. It would be interesting to see if India will include an extra bowler for the next game as they seemed in need for one against Sri Lanka as their batsmen attacked few.
Fielding would be another aspect where Indian would undoubtedly want to lift their game. They leaked a lot of runs on the field in both the games against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, which didn’t help their cause. There were few dropped catches too. As per the latest fielding standards, it wouldn’t be unfair to rate India’s fielding poor in the last two games. Though there were some brilliance by some fielders, but the games also saw some awful misfields, which in a way demotivates the others, especially the bowler. South Africa have been a brilliant fielding side and India will have to beat them in this department as well.
Although India got enough runs on the board in both the games but by looking at the way Sri Lanka batted it looked as they could have done a bit better than what they achieved. Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh failed to make any impact, which surely hampered India’s run and cost them at least 20-25 crucial runs. Yuvraj Singh played a blinder against Pakistan, an innings which provided impetus to India’s innings and his success against Sri Lanka would have definitely given India an edge.
India’s top-order has been in magnificent form, giving good starts in both the games. The team would once again want the top-order to get off to a flyer and get runs with the new ball. Also, Kohli’s success at three is very crucial from India’s point of view. The fact that, India win most of the games when Kohli garners runs makes his contribution pivotal. If India bats first, they will have to do a lot better than what thy have done with the bat in the tournament so far. India should also take note of the fact that the new-ball pair of Kagiso Rabada and Wayne Parnell has not done anything noteworthy with the new ball. It was Morne Morkel who got wickets early on in the innings. India should look to take advantage of this and play Morkel cautiously as he has been among the wickets.
AB de Villiers is known for his supremacy with the bat but the superstar of contemporary cricket has had a rough patch with the bat in the recent times. De Villiers didn’t make a huge impact with the bat in the recently concluded Indian Premier League. He got good starts in the One-Day International (ODI) series against England but failed to convert into big scores. In two games so far, De Villiers have looked bereft of oomph and not managed to get going. He is the spine of South African batting and his early fall is always a boon for the opposition. He will be under immense pressure in the crunch game against India, which can be a benefitting factor for India. India should look to take advantage of the lean patch De Villiers have had and get pick wicket early.
It wouldn’t be an easy task for both the teams, they have nothing to lose and one can expect them to come out hard. If India manage to rectify their flaws from the previous game, they will certainly find themselves in a comfortable position.