Saturday, February 21, 2015

India seek to continue the Winning Momentum against South Africa in Melbourne

India Vs South Africa at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne 22nd February 2015 – Match Preview

India and South Africa will both play their second games as they go head to head in this Pool B match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground tomorrow. The team who wins this match might well decide who will top this Pool and hence get the right to play either England or Bangladesh (who knows they might just sneak in if their match against the Australians is washed out today due to cyclone Marcia).

South African batting was a bit nervy at the start of the innings in their first game against Zimbabwe but players like De Kock, Amla and Faf Du Plessis have a superb record against the Indians. AB De Villiers is probably the best batsman going around today and his battle with the Indian spinners will be crucial in the middle overs. Then there are the heroes of the last match, the big hitting David Miller and JP Duminy who will be looking to repeat their epic partnership against a weak Indian bowling line up. Farhaan Behardien and Vernon Philander can be considered as all rounders but I feel that the Indian spinners will be a bit too much for them.

The South African bowling will be led by the world class Dale Steyn. He was off color in their opening match against the Zimbabweans and leaked runs. The Steyn anger and fire was also missing in that encounter but the Indians might bear the brunt of Steyn’s fire at the bouncy MCG. The Proteas might also consider going in for an all pace attack at the fast and bouncy Melbourne Cricket Ground against an Indian batting line up susceptible to short bowling. Kyle Abbot might get a look in ahead of Imran Tahir or Farhaan Behardien. Morne Morkel will trouble with his extra bounce and Philander will nibble the ball in the channel thus making life difficult for Dhoni and company.

The Indian batting finally clicked in Australia in their opening win against Pakistan when Shikhar Dhawan also found some form with a well compiled half century. Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane will be the key Indian batsmen for me in this match as they seem to be the best equipped to handle the quality South African attack. Suresh Raina is also in good form so he must capitalize on that. Dhoni and Jadeja might come in handy if India does not loose early wickets and the lower order is not under pressure else not much can be expected from them. India must make sure that they do not loose wickets up front so that life becomes easier in the middle overs.

Ajinkya Rahane will have a key role to perform if 
India are to get past the line against South Africa 
at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on the 22nd of February 2015

The Indian bowling too looked like a well oiled unit in the last game and they must take that confidence in this important clash. The South Africans were shaky at the top of the order and the Indians must make sure that they do not offer freebies to Amla and De Kock. I believe that how the Indian spinners bowl in the middle overs might well decide the course of the game. If R Ashwin and Ravindra jadeja can exercise some control on the South African middle order then the confidence will rub on to the seamers as well and Yadav and Shami will suddenly start to look a lot more threatening.

Key Battles: India Vs South Africa

Dale Steyn vs Virat Kohli

South African Fielding vs Indian Running between the Wickets

R Ashwin vs AB De Villiers

India have never beaten South Africa in 3 previous World Cup encounters and this time too South Africa go in the game as clear favorites but the Men in Blue have shown several times under Dhoni that you can never count them out. The South Africans were tentative against Zimbabwe and the Indians will surely be looking to exploit that fact. Indians were superb in all departments against Pakistan but can they continue the good run against a strong Protea line up. It promises to be a very good battle in front of 90,000 screaming fans and a battle which in all probability should decide who ends at the top spot in Pool B!

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

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