If rain persists, South Africa will be robbed off a fair shot to make it to the final © Getty Images
If rain persists, South Africa will be robbed off a fair shot to make it to the final © Getty Images

 

It pelted down during the Sri Lanka-West Indies semi-final at the ICC World T20 2014. As India and South Africa prepare for their encounter, there is some rain in the air in Mirpur. Nishad Pai Vaidya reports from the venue.

 

Back in 1998, Hansie Cronje led South Africa to their first world title as they clinched the Wills International Cup at Dhaka. To the present day, it remains South Africa’s only world title as since then they have been infamously failing in knockout games. A few miles away from the scene of that victory in 1998, South Africa tasted defeat in a knock-out again — in the 2011 World Cup quarter-final at the Sher-E-Bangla National Stadium. Three years down the line, South Africa are back at the same venue, but it is their victory of 1998 that would inspire them.

 

 

The ICC World T20 2014 semi-final between India and South Africa would see contrasting styles clash for a berth in the final. While India have been at Mirpur all along, South Africa have flown in from Chittagong. Their main strength has been Imran Tahir, the leg-spinner and of course Dale Steyn. Apart from the game against Sri Lanka, South Africa’s bowling have hit back well and India would be tested by that in Mirpur. The knowledge of the conditions may help them well though ahead of this contest, as Ravichandran Ashwin explained in the press conference.

 

But, a few things could change. During the Sri Lanka-West Indies semi-final, heavy rains lashed Dhaka with hail hurling down on the surface. It was all so sudden and unexpected that the ground-staff we left shocked and perhaps the wicket may have absorbed some moisture. Much later, this writer had walked near the playing surface to find that it had dried up considerably, but there was more rain later in the night. The forecast did predict some showers for Friday and one hopes it doesn’t interrupt the game like it did on Thursday.

 

As Faf du Plessis said, South Africa can assess the conditions as the second Women’s World T20 semi-final would also be played at the same venue before the men’s game. That should give both sides a good idea of how the wicket is playing and South Africa’s team composition hinges on that. India believe Aaron Phangiso has a chance to play and partner Tahir, but South Africa will only take the call once they have a look at the conditions in Mirpur. Things may have changed with the rain and that makes it even more interesting.

 

Rain rule!

 

In 1992, a bizarre rain rule saw South Africa being knocked out of the World Cup semi-final as they were made to chase 22 off one ball, after being in a position to win. This time, there is another rain-rule, albeit not as bizarre. But, if it does come into play, South Africa will be very unfortunate. If the game is rained off, without it constituting a match, India go through by virtue of the fact that they topped their group. Certainly, South Africa would pray for the rain to stay away as playing out there is their best chance of exorcising the demons of the past.

 

ICC World T20 2014 schedule: Match time table with venue details

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)