Thursday, February 26, 2015

Red Hot Windies take on Hurting South Africa

West Indies vs South Africa at Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney: Feb 27, 2015 - Match Preview

West Indies have put their loss to Ireland behind them with two strong performances, against Pakistan and Zimbabwe. South Africa on the other hand was expected to breeze through this group but hit a roadblock when they lost to India and were also pushed by Zimbabwe. Now, these two teams take on each other at the famous Sydney Cricket Ground.

The South African batting has been shaky and their dependence on Amla and AB De Villiers seems to be weighing down heavily on them. De Kock, a fine young batsman with oodles of talent seems to have lost his mojo at the top of the order. With Amla and Faf Du Plessis also struggling, they seem to rely on the lower order of Miller, Duminy and Philander. On the Sydney pitch, which is generally a very good pitch to bat on, the South African batsmen will be hoping to turn their fortunes around. AB De Villiers will also line up against West Indies, the team which he smashed to all parts during his record breaking fastest century in ODI cricket just a few weeks ago.

The South African bowlers too have not hit their strides and leaked runs in both their games so far. Steyn was charged for the game against India but even he found it difficult to contain the Indian onslaught. With Philander missing due to tightness in his hamstring and Wayne Parnell going for plenty in the last game, there are a few headaches in the South African camp. Kyle Abbot might be in line to face the West Indies and bowling to Gayle and co will be a daunting initiation to the World Cup if he plays. Imran Tahir will definitely play a key role at the Sydney cricket ground with the pitch traditionally aiding spin.

The West Indian top order failed in the first two games, first against the Irish team and then against the Pakistanis but were bailed out on both occasions by strong lower order responses. Lendl Simmons, Darren Sammy, Denesh Ramdin and Andre Russel were in great form and with the big Jamaican Chris Gayle and the consistent Marlon Samuels also finding their radar against Zimbabwe; the West Indies batting order looks frightening. The only blip for them has been the continued poor form of Dwayne Smith who I believe does not merit a place in the playing 11 with a career average of sub 20 in over 100 games.

Will Chris Gayle fire again or will South Africa manage to keep him down?

Their bowling was run ragged in the humiliating loss against Ireland but they came back well against Pakistan reducing them to 1-4 with both Jerome Taylor and the skipper Jason Holder picking up wickets. The spin department is well stacked up with Benn and also part timers in Samuels and Gayle. They have all rounders in Sammy and Russel who are reliable and capable of bowling tight line and lengths.

Key Battles: West Indies Vs South Africa

Dale Steyn vs Chris Gayle

South African Fielding vs West Indian Running between the Wickets

Imran Tahir vs Darren Sammy and Andre Russel

This match is a very important fixture for both West Indies and South Africa. If the West Indian team manages to beat the South Africans then they will gain a huge boost and might even top Pool B. South Africa, on the other hand, might miss the bus to the Quarter Finals or might finish in the 4th spot if they lose hence drawing either New Zealand or Australia in the Quarter Finals! A huge game, this one is not to be missed. Chris Gayle, fresh from making the first ever double hundred in World Cup history taking on a charged up Dale Steyn and AB De Villiers taking on the West Indian part timers in the middle of the innings is definitely something that might decide the fate of the game.

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

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