Preview: Super Saturday sees India battle it out against South Africa

Indian team celebrate fall of wickets

Preview: Super Saturday sees India battle it out against South Africa

By Suneer Chowdhary

Nagpur: Mar 12, 2011

It is that time of the tournament when most teams would have begun to keep an eye on the points table. If they could help, all sides would prefer finishing at the top of the group but the first task would be to qualify for the quarters.

From that aspect of the game, not that India have a lot to worry. Their win against Netherlands ensured they were the first team to qualify for the quarters. South Africa, on the other hand, have four from four and with games against Bangladesh and Ireland still to go, they would be in safe enough territories.

And yet, the two teams will be desperate to win this one. The reasons are manifold, apart from the obvious. One, they have been sparring at each other for over a year now with the pendulum showing a relentless penchant to swing from one team to the other and back. At home, India drew a Test series and won the ODIs 2-1. Then, in South Africa, the Tests were again drawn with South Africa winning the ODI series 3-2.

The two would also want to finish atop of the group and a win in this game could ensure that.

India have had a strange start to the World Cup. The bowling struggled through most part of the first couple of games till, one thought it could not get worse. And when the bowling did get going, the batsmen took their turn in not living up to the ‘best-batting-line-up-on-paper tag as they made heavy weather of a couple of chases against Ireland and Netherlands. Yuvraj Singh s twin-fifties won India the valuable four points.

Conspiracy theorists may have explanations of varying degrees for R Ashwin s absence and Piyush Chawla s inclusion. But without going into the merits or demerits of the decision one can be rest assured that Ashwin will be given a look-in for this one. Or so one would like to believe.

The other tactic that MS Dhoni may consider giving a go is to allow a spinner to use the new ball. Thus far, the best an India spinner came to bowling early was in the previous match against Netherlands when Yusuf Pathan was called up in the fourth over.

It may not be such a bad idea to toss the ball up to Harbhajan Singh for a couple of overs instead, stemming from the fact that the turbaned offie had had a good time in South Africa when the tracks afforded some bounce. With the ball still new, Harbhajan, who has scalped only two wickets from four games, will probably get whatever bounce there could be. Nothing better for his morale than getting a wicket or two early in the innings.

South Africa looked unsurprisingly clinical in their first couple of games, against the West Indies and the Netherlands. Then, their most-recent nemesis England, were bowled out for 171 and a hat-trick of wins looked most likely at 75 for 1. And then, the track seemed to have got the better of the South Africans, which they found to be under-prepared for the second time since the start of the tournament their first game here was in the warm-ups.

Graeme Smith will be happier at Nagpur. The pitch will have much more to offer for the likes of AB de Villiers, who has had a couple of centuries already and Jacques Kallis, who hasn t had the best of resumptions after his fitness issues.

Imran Tahir s injury would have come as a setback but he may still be a part of the playing eleven. He has shown to have had a reasonable control over his variations but India will be his first true test.

On the flat Nagpur track and with two strong batting line-ups, it is not too difficult to predict that the difference in the bowling attacks will be the distinguishing factor. And probably the dew. The team winning the toss could end up fielding. As far as the predictions go, my surmise is that the team batting second will also go on to win it narrowly.

India (Probable): Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c&wk), Yusuf Pathan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra.

South Africa (Probable): Graeme Smith (c), Hashim Amla, Jaques Kallis, AB de Villiers (wk), JP Duminy, Morne van Wyk, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Morne Morke

Umpires: Ian Gould (England) and Simon Taufel (Australia)

Time: 14.30 hours local (09.00 GMT)

(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at suneerchowdhary@gmail.com and Tweets here: @suneerchowdhary)

By Suneer Chowdhary

Nagpur: Mar 12, 2011

It is that time of the tournament when most teams would have begun to keep an eye on the points table. If they could help, all sides would prefer finishing at the top of the group but the first task would be to qualify for the quarters.From that aspect of the game, not that India have a lot to worry. Their win against Netherlands ensured they were the first team to qualify for the quarters.

South Africa, on the other hand, have four from four and with games against Bangladesh and Ireland still to go, they would be in safe enough territories.And yet, the two teams will be desperate to win this one. The reasons are manifold, apart from the obvious. One, they have been sparring at each other for over a year now with the pendulum showing a relentless penchant to swing from one team to the other and back. At home, India drew a Test series and won the ODIs 2-1.

Then, in South Africa, the Tests were again drawn with South Africa winning the ODI series 3-2.The two would also want to finish atop of the group and a win in this game could ensure that.India have had a strange start to the World Cup. The bowling struggled through most part of the first couple of games till, one thought it could not get worse. And when the bowling did get going, the batsmen took their turn in not living up to the ‘best-batting-line-up-on-paper tag as they made heavy weather of a couple of chases against Ireland and Netherlands.

Yuvraj Singh s twin-fifties won India the valuable four points.Conspiracy theorists may have explanations of varying degrees for R Ashwin s absence and Piyush Chawla s inclusion. But without going into the merits or demerits of the decision one can be rest assured that Ashwin will be given a look-in for this one. Or so one would like to believe.The other tactic that MS Dhoni may consider giving a go is to allow a spinner to use the new ball.

Thus far, the best an India spinner came to bowling early was in the previous match against Netherlands when Yusuf Pathan was called up in the fourth over.It may not be such a bad idea to toss the ball up to Harbhajan Singh for a couple of overs instead, stemming from the fact that the turbaned offie had had a good time in South Africa when the tracks afforded some bounce. With the ball still new, Harbhajan, who has scalped only two wickets from four games, will probably get whatever bounce there could be.

Nothing better for his morale than getting a wicket or two early in the innings.South Africa looked unsurprisingly clinical in their first couple of games, against the West Indies and the Netherlands. Then, their most-recent nemesis England, were bowled out for 171 and a hat-trick of wins looked most likely at 75 for 1. And then, the track seemed to have got the better of the South Africans, which they found to be under-prepared for the second time since the start of the tournament their first game here was in the warm-ups.

Graeme Smith will be happier at Nagpur. The pitch will have much more to offer for the likes of AB de Villiers, who has had a couple of centuries already and Jacques Kallis, who hasn t had the best of resumptions after his fitness issues.Imran Tahir s injury would have come as a setback but he may still be a part of the playing eleven. He has shown to have had a reasonable control over his variations but India will be his first true test.

On the flat Nagpur track and with two strong batting line-ups, it is not too difficult to predict that the difference in the bowling attacks will be the distinguishing factor. And probably the dew. The team winning the toss could end up fielding. As far as the predictions go, my surmise is that the team batting second will also go on to win it narrowly.

India (Probable): Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c&wk), Yusuf Pathan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra.

South Africa (Probable): Graeme Smith (c), Hashim Amla, Jaques Kallis, AB de Villiers (wk), JP Duminy, Morne van Wyk, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel.

Umpires: Ian Gould (England) and Simon Taufel (Australia).

Time: 14.30 hours local (09.00 GMT).

(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at suneerchowdhary@gmail.com and Tweets here: @suneerchowdhary)

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