Friday, March 25, 2016

Nagpur Pitch in Focus as West Indies Clash with South Africa

South Africa Vs West Indies - VCA in Jamtha, Nagpur 25th March 2016 - ICC WT20 Match Preview

The Group 1 is not as clear as Group 2 where New Zealand is already through and it is almost a certainty that they will lead the group as well. Here the West Indies appear most likely to finish on top as they are on 4 points from 2 games but South Africa, England and Sri Lanka are all in with a chance to go through to the semi finals as well. Hence, every match of Group 1 becomes very important from here on in.

The West Indies and South Africa clash will bring us back to the Jamtha in Nagpur and the pitch will come under scrutiny again after it had massive turn and bounce in the opening encounter between hosts India and New Zealand. Although a different surface is to be used but spin is almost certainly expected to play a huge role in this important Group 1 clash.

The West Indian batting flourished under Gayle against England where he went on a rampage while his replacement Fletcher ran riot against the Lankans in game 2 as Gayle could not bat with a hamstring twinge. The other batsmen have not looked as comfortable as the others with only flashes of brilliance from Samuels and Russell providing a silver lining for them. Brave, Ramdin and Charles must step up on a pitch which can be difficult to bat on. Captain Sammy and Brathwaite lurk lower down and belt the living daylights out of any attack in this World Cup.

The Protea bowling has not yet lived up to its high reputation – they gave away 230 runs to England to lose a match that was firmly in their grasp and then Afghanistan gave them a real scare almost chasing down a mammoth 200. Steyn was dropped for the Afghanistan match and I don’t see him coming back in with Morris having picked up 3 wickets in the last match. Aaron Phangiso might get a game since JP Duminy will not be available for this clash having injured his hamstring during the last game at Wankhede. Tahir, with the ball expected to grip and turn, will be a key figure for this encounter in Nagpur.

The South African batting has been in ominous form with De Kock and Amla proving them with blazing starts and AB De Villiers, Faf du Plessis and Miller providing the charge in the slog overs. De Villiers made a stunning return to form in the last game as he tore in to the young leg spinner Rashid, taking him for 29 in an over – it was that over which eventually proved to be the difference between the two sides! With Duminy missing they might consider bringing in Behardien or Rossouw in his place.

The West Indian bowling has been served well by their bevy of slow bowlers in Badree and Benn while their slew of all rounders in Russell, Bravo and Brathwaite provide a huge solidity to their overall composition. They might not play Taylor and Holder as the pitch is as it is not expected to be conducive to pace bowlers.

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