Team India is a chock-a-block unit with dazzling stroke makers and a silken spin-trio that has helped Dhoni’s devils make their way into the last 4 with ease. Nobody ever thought that India could literally annihilate each of their 4 group-stage opponents and have a clean sheet going into this delicious semifinal clash against the typical ‘chokers’, South Africa.
South Africa, on the other hand, had to work much, much harder to get through as the 2nd team in their group. They started off their world cup campaign with a defeat against the Lankans, then escaped a major banana skin in the form of Netherlands, who very nearly ousted Du-Plessis’ side from the current edition of T20 world cup, but two morale-boosting victories against England and New Zealand gives them a fair chance of competing with their semifinal opponents, India.
A world cup semifinal is no smidgen clash, and any team would want their key personnels to step up to the plate. And when you talk about India and South Africa in the T20 format, there isn’t a shortage of world class players, players who are awe-inspiring. With that being said, how many of those world class players can raise the bar on the night of the semifinal, and consequently end up deciding the fate of their sides?
After the barren run in the tours of South Africa and New Zealand with the ball, Ashwin has recaptured his mojo bowling form in this ongoing edition of T20 world cup in Bangladesh. His off-spinners have landed in the right areas, and the carom ball has to an extent kept the lid on some of the free-scoring batsmen of the world.
At Mirpur, the surface has come to the aid of Ashwin, who has enjoyed the bounce he has been able to generate so far. And if the wicket does play the way it did during the group games, Ashwin could well turn out to be the tormentor for South Africa.
Ashwin could be used during the powerplay overs, which could see him going face to face with Hashim Amla, who himself is a proven technician when it comes to playing spin bowling.
So brace yourself and watch out for the battle between Ashwin and Amla. If Ashwin does have the last laugh, the story of what Herath did to New Zealand could well resurface in this semifinal tie.
The man with the lady luck without a shadow of a doubt has to be Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Back home, and in the sub-continent, Dhoni knows how to play his cards right when captaining his side on the field, and will once again look to his spin bowlers to do bulk of the damage against South Africa.
In a match of this magnitude, Dhoni is the kind of character who can keep the turbulent emotions of some of his players in check.
Overall, Dhoni is yet another key man, who could very well influence the end result with his captaincy, and also as a formidable finisher in the Indian lower-middle order.
It’s terribly hard to talk South Africa, and totally ignore Steyn being an integral part of South Africa’s agenda. He has become a colossal figure in world cricket, and just continues to raise eye-brows with his breathtaking, and at times, jaw-dropping bowling spells.
The wicket in Mirpur is conducive to slow and efficient spin bowling indeed, but Steyn’s pace and ability to hurry the batsmen could add another dimension to this semifinal tie.
His 4 overs are invaluable for South Africa, and it will be interesting to see how India tackle him. Do they go for the jugular, and disconcert Steyn up front, or do they give him the deserved respect?
Steyn’s 4 overs could end up deciding this marquee clash between India and South Africa.
Abraham Benjamin De Villiers
This man is gifted with the uncanny ability to change the course of a game rapidly. He can be orthodox, unorthodox, and can literally decimate the morale of any bowler with some of the strokes he comes up with.
With spin expected to be a major talking point, and De Villiers being a good player of spin, South Africa will no doubt rely on him to smother the Indian spin trio.
His batting could also influence the way Dhoni brings about his bowling changes, and that in turn could have big impact on the balance of this game.
Well, the latest news is that the ground has recovered pretty well after last night’s hailstorm marauding of Mirpur. But there’s a forecast for Rain again playing spoilsport on Friday as well, and guess what, if that is the case, India will go through as the 2nd finalists based on a higher finish in the group stages.
It’s sad that the 5th influential player to this game has to be the dreaded rain, but fingers crossed, and hope that we have a full 40-over game, which I am sure will make for a memorable spectacle.