India, SA need win and a bit of luck
October 2, 2012
Start time 1930 local (1400 GMT)
The Group 2 matches on Sunday had big billings, but turned out to be far from closely fought. Australia are now the team to beat, and India, with all their selection headaches ahead of the game against Pakistan, ultimately eased to victory. That success will give India's line-up some stability for their final game against South Africa. Their opponents, on the other hand, after a comprehensive defeat against Australia, desperately need to rebound, and rebound strongly, though even that may not be enough. The requirements for each team will be clearly laid out upon conclusion of the Australia-Pakistan game in the afternoon.
Should Pakistan beat Australia, South Africa will bow out and they'll be playing for pride against India. That would leave India needing to beat South Africa by a margin large enough to overtake either Pakistan or Australia's net run-rate, depending on which of those teams is second in the table. Should Australia beat Pakistan, a win over South Africa will see India through. A win for South Africa, in the same situation, will bring it down to net run-rates between three teams - India, South Africa and Pakistan.
India will be relieved, though concerns over Yuvraj Singh's fitness, despite his impressive show against Pakistan, will remain. Their fifth bowler - the combination of Yuvraj and Virat Kohli - picked up three wickets, though it remains to be seen if they bring in an extra spinner against South Africa.
South Africa's problems against Xavier Doherty will prompt questions over how their batting will cope against India's slow bowlers. Their fielding was off the mark and the pressure created by Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel in their early spells proved unsustainable, as the rest of the bowling didn't deliver. The concerns are multiple, as AB de Villiers has admitted, and the slide in form in the Super Eights has threatened to push them out of another ICC tournament. The right results and the right numbers, though, may yet rescue them.
Form guide(completed matches, most recent first)
South Africa: LLWWL
Watch out for
Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel bowled with pace, hit the right lengths, beat the bat and tested Australia's opening pair in Colombo. Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir can counterattack with equal ferocity, but their approach will be interesting to watch.
Rohit Sharma, who's been under pressure, has had a good outing in Sri Lanka so far and has also had his captain's backing. He'll look back on a crucial half-century he scored against South Africa in the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007, when an Indian win knocked the hosts out of the tournament.
Faf du Plessis was the South African to pad up and bat in the nets on the eve of the game, and he could well be picked in place of the struggling opener Richard Levi.
South Africa (possible): 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Faf du Plessis, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 JP Duminy, 5 AB de Villiers (capt & wk), 6 Farhaan Behardien, 7 Robin Peterson, 8 Wayne Parnell, 9 Johan Botha, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Morne Morkel.
South Africa have had issues against spin, and India could be tempted to play an extra specialist spinner. This could mean the impressive L Balaji may have to sit out.
India (possible): 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 Virender Sehwag, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 Rohit Sharma, 7 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 8 Irfan Pathan, 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 R Ashwin, 11 Zaheer Khan.
Pitch and conditions
There was some early morning rain in Colombo on the eve of the match, but practice was unaffected. The forecast is for partly cloudy weather during the day, but clear skies at night.
Stats and trivia
- India have beaten South Africa in four of the six Twenty20 internationals between the teams, including twice in World Twenty20s.
- JP Duminy is 64 runs away from becoming the first South African to reach 1000 runs in T20 internationals.
"The first match starts at 3:30 so we can watch on television if the ball is turning or not, since all teams have good spinners. That too has an impact on deciding the playing XI."
MS Dhoni on India's selection plans for the final Super Eights game
"We haven't played well enough in the key moments. We should have won the Pakistan game. It is disappointing that we have had opportunities to close out games and we haven't done it."
Gary Kirsten on one of South Africa's problems this World T20
Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo