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Spin gives India the edge in WT20 semi-final vs SA

April 03, 2014 18:03 IST

Spin gives India the edge in WT20 semi-final vs SA

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India is on a high after four straight victories, but Yuvraj Singh’s injury is a worrying factor as they go into Friday’s World T20 semi-final against South Africa.

While the team management is hopeful of the dashing all-rounder recovering fully from the ankle injury he sustained while playing football during a practice session, selecting the final eleven for the match could be a tricky proposition for them.

The dilemma facing the 2007 champions is whether to retain Ajinkya Rahane, in place of out-of-form Shikhar Dhawan, and Mohit Sharma, who replaced Mohammed Shami in the last Super 10’s match against Australia.

While Dhawan is known to be a destructive batsman, his form is a big concern, which may prompt the management to retain Rahane.


Image: Indian players celebrate after picking up a wicket
Photographs: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

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Yuvraj doubtful for the clash

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However, if Yuvraj -- who after a few indifferent matches showed how destructive he can be in the shortest format with a 43-ball-60 against Australia in the last group league -- does not recover fully, both Rahane and Dhawan are likely to make the playing eleven.

Rahane scored only 19 during his brief stay at the crease in the last match against Australia, but looked more compact than Dhawan, who has 31 runs in three games. Against the West Indies and Bangladesh, he looked very scratchy and simply couldn't get the ball off the square.

Meanwhile, the South Africans will be wary of the quality spin attack they will encounter. The match holds the promise of a keenly-fought contest as Virat Kohli’s swagger will meet Imran Tahir’s guile, and Rohit Sharma will try to douse the 'fire' of Dale Steyn.

If one goes by form in the tournament, particularly that of their spinners Amit Mishra and Ravichandran Ashwin, India can be termed favourites.


Image: Yuvraj Singh
Photographs: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

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Dilemma over pacers

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But their pace bowling is also an area of concern. While Bhuvneshwar Kumar, with an economy rate of 4.33 in 12 overs across four matches, has shown a lot of control with the new ball, his regular partner, Mohammed Shami, has been unimpressive, with an economy rate of 8.70 in the three matches he played.

While Shami’s pace is an asset and Dhoni does have a liking for the Bengal speedster, he is very much aware as to what young Mohit Sharma can bring to the table.

The Haryana seamer got Shane Watson with an off-cutter and looked very much a part during his two overs. However, he was hit while trying to stop a spanking Ravindra Jadeja shot in his follow-through.

While Mohit and Bhuvneshwar bowl at the same pace and with same variations, the difference that Shami brings to the table is his extra yard of pace.


Image: Mohit Sharma
Photographs: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

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Steyn and Morkel key for SA

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South Africa’s chances will depend a lot on world No 1 fast bowler Steyn’s performance. With nine wickets from four matches, Steyn will be certainly extracting more pace and bounce than what is actually on offer on the 22-yards strip of the Mirpur stadium.

But it will certainly be a test for Tahir, who has so far got 11 wickets from his four games at an economy rate of less than seven runs per over.

The Indians did not face any problems while facing Tahir during their Test series in South Africa last year. While a leg-spinner is an attacking option, he can also go for runs and the Indian batting line-up does have the ability to hit the bowler out of the attack.

If Morne Morkel is fit and raring to go, then one among Beuran Hendricks and Wayne Parnell will have to make way.


Image: Dale Steyn
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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De Villiers lead the batting charge

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South Africa’s batting will depend a lot on how their premier batsman AB de Villiers plays.

De Villiers has the ability to decimate any attacks and he has done that consistently in IPL and also for South Africa. The Indians will certainly be wary of him. Not to forget that regular skipper Faf du Plessis is fighting against time to get fit for the match.

While India will be hoping to move on from their forgettable first two-and-a-half months in 2014, South Africa are determined to shed the 'chokers' tag in this current ICC event.


Image: AB de Cilliers
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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