Rain threat looms over crucial tie
Friday, June 14, 2013, Cardiff
Start time 10.30am (9.30 GMT)
A glance at Cardiff's pregnant skies is enough to set the tone for the knockout clash between South Africa and West Indies and it is not a positive one. What should be a fascinating clash between a team that dominates outside of major tournaments and a team trying to recreate their glory days may not even happen. If it does, it is likely to be interrupted by rain.
Should the wet weather have the final say, South Africa will progress by virtue of a better net run-rate but they will not want to go into the real knockouts in such fortunate circumstances. Neither will West Indies want to exit the tournament in a drizzle of disappointment, although they have two poor batting performances to blame for their current standing in the group.
While South Africa showed improvement, particularly in the bowling department, in their second game, West Indies remained static. As a result, they have not managed a total of even 240 so far and against South Africa, it would be safe to assume, they may need many more to win.
But this is not a normal occasion for South Africa; this is a pressure game and that alone could scramble their minds. Even if Dale Steyn is fit and firing, their main battle will be with themselves as they try to rewrite their reputations as big-game bloopers.
West Indies will fancy themselves more than usual, especially because they have been the team that have put South Africa out of tournaments the most. On three occasions, they have been responsible for South Africa taking the next flight home and their cavalier confidence has often given them the edge over a team paranoid of failure.
Form guide(Most recent first)
South Africa: WLWWL
West Indies: LWWWW
In the Spotlight
There hasn't been much opportunity for a finisher like David Miller to show what he is capable of. The "in the arc, out of the park" hitter has had mixed results in a tournament where run-scoring has tapered as innings go on, but team management remains confident Miller will be able to make an impact at some point. Given a firm foundation and licence to thrill, it may be his big day.
Sunil Narine has encountered South Africans at the IPL but has never played against South Africa and he may well be relishing the opportunity. Despite reams of video evidence, Narine remains difficult to pick - with both his offbreak and doosra bowled out of the front of the hand and made trickier by his pace. Although the stereotype about South Africa's batsmen being spun into submission doesn't apply anymore, he could still cause ample problems for a team under pressure.
With Dale Steyn declared fit and available, South Africa will likely go in with four seamers, one specialist spinner in Robin Peterson and JP Duminy as an allrounder. That will mean only one change for them with Colin Ingram occupying the top spot ahead of specialist opener Alviro Petersen and Farhaan Behardien missing out again.
South Africa: (probable) 1 Colin Ingram, 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Faf du Plessis, 4 AB de Villiers (capt, wk), 5 JP Duminy, 6 David Miller, 7 Ryan McLaren 8 Robin Peterson 9 Chris Morris, 10 Dale Steyn/Aaron Phangiso, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe
An unchanged XI is expected and with Denesh Ramdin still suspended, Johnson Charles will keep wickets again.
West Indies: (probable) 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Johnson Charles (wk), 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 6 Dwayne Bravo (capt), 7 Kieron Pollard, 8 Darren Sammy, 9 Sunil Narine, 10 Ravi Rampaul, 11 Kemar Roach
Pitch and conditions
Rain fell consistently throughout Wednesday and Thursday and more showers are forecast for match day with a window of clear weather predicted only between 2pm and 5pm. That could be enough to squeeze in a 20-over shootout, but both teams will want more than that. Should play take place, the moisture is likely to make conditions conducive for the pacers.
The ground has seen one run-fest between India and South Africa and one low-scoring scuffle between Sri Lanka and New Zealand, but both took place before the rains. So fairly fresh conditions can be expected for this match.
Stats and Trivia
- Chris Gayle has scored three hundreds against South Africa, two of them in losing causes.
- Three of the 12 ODIs played at Sophia Gardens have been washed out - 25%. South Africa have been involved in two of those.
Quotes"They know if they lose, they are going back home. They have a tag of being chokers that do well in big tournaments, so that would be added pressure on them."
West Indies captain Dwayne Bravo
"They always say batting second is easier when there is a bit of weather around. I'm not too fussed about that. Whether we play a shortened game or a normal game, it's all about focus and team intensity off the field."
South African captain AB de Villiers
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent