South Africa and India square off in Dhaka on Friday to determine who progresses to the final of the World Twenty20 on Sunday.
Venue: Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur
Date: Friday, April 4
Start time: 1 p.m. GMT
Weather: Accuweather predicts that, although temperatures will be high, a couple of heavy thunderstorms are possible. This could see the game result in a short-over shoot out—or be called off completely. Weather has been quite unpredictable in Bangladesh and there only needs to be five overs a side to consider it a game, so there is a little glimmer of hope.
Start the old joke machine of South Africa in knock-out competitions and the c-word that goes along with it.
Beyond all reasonable expectations, the South Africans managed to progress to the semi-finals after consistently finding their bottle and winning from losing positions.
Early flight to Dhaka. Exciting week ahead! #proteafire— AB de Villiers (@ABdeVilliers17) March 30, 2014
By contrast, India have been dominant and have looked like the most difficult team to beat. They won all their Super 10 games with a combination of good bowling and some fine batting for their top order.
But T20 can change very quickly and cricket is a cruel game. The bad news for South Africa is that if the rain were to intervene and cancel the whole thing, they'll be out before even getting a chance to prove themselves. There is no reserve day in place for the semi-finals and the team who topped their group will progress.
Should there manage to be a game, there are a few challenges for South Africa. Firstly, the batting has been under par and while it has gotten progressively better, the lack of consistency has been troubling.
South Africa also have to decide what to do with AB de Villiers. He batted at three in the match against England and excelled there, scoring 69 not out off 28 balls. However, with Faf du Plessis returning for the semi-final fixture, following a ban for a slow over rate, will the skipper slot back in at three? Logic would dictate that de Villiers is best batting in the role, but whether logic will infiltrate the selection process is yet to be seen.
South Africa's bowling has also been vastly dependent on Imran Tahir and Dale Steyn. Wayne Parnell did his bit against England but, as a unit, South Africa will have to bowl out of their skin against a very strong Indian batting line-up.
Virat Gang (@ViratGang) March 30, 2014
India's weaknesses aren't so stark and even the struggling Yuvraj Singh managed to find some form when they thrashed Australia. India are also far more used to the conditions in Dhaka—they have played all their group games there, while the Proteas were in Chittagong. The former champions are, as it stands, hands-down the favourites to become the first team to clinch the title twice.
Both teams have fully fit squads, despite Yuvraj Singh picking up a mild knock in training. According to ESPNCricinfo, Yuvraj Singh missed India's training session on Wednesday after taking a hit on his ankle while playing football. His ankle was trapped when he left the ground but missed out only a precautionary measure.
The T20 format does lend itself to have favourites, but it also leads itself to have some fortune for individuals. Should there be a game, South Africa have a chance to draw on the experience of their recent "anti-chokes" and prove that all of it wasn't a fluke.
Amit Mishra has been superb for India in this tournament. With nine wickets at an average of 8.77 and taking a wicket once every 10 deliveries, he will be India's key bowler. South Africa do have some batsmen who can play spin well, but when the pressure is on, anything can happen.
India haven't quite been tested against real fast bowling just yet and South Africa'a have a real fast bowler in their midst. Dale Steyn has nine wickets at an average of 13.00 and his final over against New Zealand showed just how crucial real pace can be when used well.
MS Dhoni (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Stuart Binny, Amit Mishra, Mohit Sharma and Varun Aaron
Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Aaron Phangiso, Jean-Paul Duminy,Morne Morkel, Albie Morkel, David Miller, Beuran Hendricks, Farhaan Behardien, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Dale Steyn, Wayne Parnell, Imran Tahir, Quinton de Kock (w/k), Faf du Plessis (c)