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India v South Africa, Group E, Durban

Battle of batting big guns

The Preview by S Rajesh in Durban

September 19, 2007

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India v South Africa, Durban, Thursday, September 20, 1800 local time (1600 GMT)

Graeme Smith is due for a big one, and India might be at the receiving end © Getty Images

Expect a high-voltage clash as India take on South Africa, the hosts, in a match that will decide which two teams will make it to the semi-finals of the ICC World Twenty20. Both teams scored impressive wins on Wednesday - Justin Kemp led South Africa to a target of 154 against New Zealand, while India, powered by an astonishing knock from Yuvraj Singh, amassed 219. The batting line-ups of both teams are power-packed, which suggests a run-fest is on the cards.

India's win against England also means three teams are still in contention for two semi-final slots. New Zealand's net-run rate is currently the least of the three teams, which means if India beat South Africa they will go through. Also, if South Africa lose by a heavy margin, their net run rate could drop below 0.05, which is New Zealand's current NRR. In that case India and New Zealand will make it to the semis. If South Africa win, of course, they'll get through along with New Zealand.

Bat play: Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have been in superb form in the last two games, ensuring the team has got off to a terrific start. With Yuvraj Singh in such astonishing form as well, India have the batting might to scare any attack.

South Africa, though, will fancy their chances with the bat as well. Graeme Smith is due a big score, as is AB de Villiers. Justin Kemp showed just how to chase down an asking rate of ten an over against New Zealand, and with Mark Boucher and Shaun Pollock around to beef up the lower order, the batting has a formidable look to it.

Wrecking ball: Morne Morkel turned it on against New Zealand, but Pollock's form has been a worry. Their lack of slow-bowling option is a worry, but in Durban, where the fast bowlers have had some assistance, that might not be a concern.

India's bowlers didn't cover themselves with glory either, with Joginder Sharma having an especially poor game. He might well sit out on Thursday.

Keep your eyes on: Graeme Smith. He hasn't yet made a big score in this tournament, and with no Zaheer Khan in this Indian attack, this could well be his opportunity.

Shop talk: Smith reckons the pitch in Durban will assist the fast bowlers and help South Africa gain an edge. Dhoni reckons the team is under no pressure, but when the two teams take the field, there'll surely be butterflies in the stomach for many.

Pitching it right: The pitch offered a bit to the seamers, but batsmen are likely to prosper again. The small and quick outfield should add to the number of runs scored in the day.

South Africa (probable) Graeme Smith (capt), Herschelle Gibbs, AB de Villiers, Justin Kemp, Mark Boucher (wk), Vernon Philander, Shaun Pollock, Johan van der Wath, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Andre Nel.

India (probable) Virendar Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Rohit Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla, Sreesanth, RP Singh.

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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