India vs. South Africa: Prediction, Head-to-Head Record, Top Batsmen and Bowlers

Jason PettigroveContributor IApril 3, 2014

Can India continue their good form against South Africa?
Can India continue their good form against South Africa?Scott Barbour/Getty Images

India take on South Africa on Thursday afternoon, April 3, in the second semi-final of the World Twenty20, with a place in the final at stake.

Four comfortable wins from four, per BBC Sport, saw India claim an easy passage into this stage of the competition.

By contrast, opponents South Africa have squeaked through each of their wins, per BBC Sportlosing just the one group game by five runs to Sri Lanka in their tournament opener.

Clearly, the South Africans will need to up their game significantly if they want to progress to the final, but they will have their work cut out against India's trio of spin bowlers.

 

Head-to-Head Record

Per JPN/Agencies via the Jagran Post, India are comfortably in front on the head-to-head records between the sides, both in T20 format generally and also at the World T20.

Total Played: 7

Won by India: 5 (winning percentage 71.42)
Won by South Africa: 2 (winning percentage 28.57)

India vs South Africa at the World T20

Total Played: 4

Won by India: 3 (winning percentage 75.00)
Won by South Africa:  1 (winning percentage 25.00)

Per ZeeNews, the games between the sides at the World T20 have always been close affairs.

In Durban 2007, India triumphed by 37 runs. Two years later in Nottingham, the South Africans that took the honours by 12 runs.

India won the tie by a slender 14 runs in Gros Islet in 2010, whilst in 2012 it was closer still. Just a single run separated the sides in Columbo in 2012, with India victorious again.

 

Top Batsmen

DHAKA, BANGLADESH - MARCH 30:  Yuvraj Singh of India bats during the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014 match between India v Australia at Sher-e-Bangla Mirpur Stadium on March 30, 2014 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Scott Barbour/Getty Images

After his heroics against Australia in their last match, India's left-hander Yuvraj Singh is now the top run scorer in T20 internationals for his country, per FirstPost.com.

His 939 runs have come in just 38 games, taking him past previous record holder Gautam Gambhir. If South Africa want to retain any sort of interest in this match, they need to work Singh early to stop him finding a rhythm.

He's shown on many previous occasions that once in his stride, he can be very difficult to remove. By way of evidence to back up the claim, his eight fifties in T20 cricket are also a record by an Indian batsman, per FirstPost, his most recent coming against the Australians.

Captain MS Dhoni will surely be keeping his fingers crossed that Singh recovers from a slight ankle knock received whilst playing football, per the Jagran Post.

South Africa's AB De Villiers is the man for the big occasion, as he showed in the game against England earlier in this tournament.

CHITTAGONG, BANGLADESH - MARCH 29:  AB de Villiers of South Africa hits out for six runs during the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014 Group 1 match between England and South Africa at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium on March 29, 2014 in Chittagong, Banglad
Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Scoring his country's fastest fifty ever in this form of the game, per David Hopps of ESPNCricInfo, he went on to finish with an inspirational knock of 69, which saw South Africa into the semi-final stage. 

India Today noted De Villiers as: 

[...] likely to be one of the most influential players for South Africa in World T20.

[...] his 'street smart' cricket and knack for scoring runs consistently makes him a vital cog for the South African middle-order. 

If Hashim Amla can provide some fierce resistance to the Indian attack alongside of De Villiers, there's no reason why South Africa can't look to build a big score.


Top Bowlers

CHITTAGONG, BANGLADESH - MARCH 24:  Dale Steyn of South Africa celebrates running out Ross Taylor of New Zealand to win the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014 Group 1 match between New Zealand and South Africa at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium on March 24,
Gareth Copley/Getty Images

South Africa's Dale Steyn is able to play all forms of cricket with equal ability, per First Post. The fast bowler cuts a fearsome presence when he bears down on the crease at full-tilt, and India's top order will need to be on their mettle to stop the experienced Steyn from making early in-roads.

Calm under pressure, Steyn showed his worth against New Zealand earlier in the tournament when South Africa were staring defeat in the face.

The kiwis needed just seven runs from the final over, and a boundary from Nathan McCullum saw that reduced to just three.

Five dot balls to make up that final over, including taking the wicket of McCullum, saw his side to victory. Arguably, if South Africa are made to bowl first, Steyn can be the difference.

In India's corner is the masterful Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Per Abhishek Purohit of ESPNCricInfo, Kumar is one of three bowlers whose economy with the ball isn't in doubt, sitting at a run per ball.

HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND - JANUARY 22: Bhuvneshwar Kumar of India bowls as Kane Williamson of New Zealand looks on during the One Day International match between New Zealand and India at Seddon Park on January 22, 2014 in Hamilton, New Zealand.  (Photo by An
Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

Purohit notes the conditions favour the spin bowler, and the West Indies' Darren Sammy noted:

Kumar swung the ball both in and out and he bowled good areas.

We know they were bowling to the two most dangerous openers in this format of the game. They kept them quiet.

With the conditions ripe for spin and Kumar being in form at the tournament, a temptation to go for the big hits from the South African openers could be playing straight into India's hands.

The key to the match is for either side to settle quickly and get the top order into gear by playing some natural strokes to keep the run rate ticking over.

Whilst the South Africans are capable of springing a surprise, the conditions will favour the Indian bowlers, and their excellence throughout this tournament should see them claim a place in the final.

 

Prediction: India to win by five wickets.