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April 9, 2007
West Indies can't afford another defeat, while South Africa's semi-final chances will take a severe knock if they don't win - there's plenty at stake as the two teams clash at the new National Cricket Stadium in Grenada. Historical data points overwhelmingly in favour of South Africa - they've won 26 out of 39 matches - as does recent form between the two teams - South Africa have won eight out of 12 since 2004 - but after their shock defeat against Bangladesh, they don't look quite as invincible. West Indies will also be encouraged by their record against the South Africans in the most important games - they've won the last two times in the World Cup and the Champions Trophy. Home advantage may not be much of a factor for West Indies: they've lost 10 out of 15 home games against South Africa, including a 5-0 drubbing in the 2004-05 series.
Chanderpaul and Kallis lead the way
Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Brian Lara are the only West Indian batsmen to average more than 35 in this World Cup, and while Chanderpaul has impressive stats against South Africa, Lara's numbers are slightly disappointing - his average against them is four runs lesser than his career average.
The big worry for West Indies, though, is the form of Chris Gayle. When in his element he can thrash bowlers to distraction, but in this tournament he has been completely off colour, averaging less than 20 from six innings. In seven opening stands against South Africa, Chanderpaul and Gayle average 76.33 per partnership - Gayle's form will have to improve significantly for West Indies to replicate that sort of a start.
Lara averages only 36 against South Africa, but he has been superb form in this World Cup, and, more worryingly for Graeme Smith, he has scored matchwinning centuries on the last two occasions when the two teams have played in the World Cup. South Africa's best chance against him could well be to unleash Andre Nel into the attack. Nel has already dismissed Lara 11 times in international cricket - eight times in Tests and thrice in ODIs. As the table below shows, those three dismissals in ODIs haven't cost him much either.
|Bowler||Innings||Runs||Dismissals||Average||Balls Faced||Strike Rate|
Among the South African batsmen, Jacques Kallis has an outstanding record against West Indies, while Herschelle Gibbs and Smith haven't done too badly either.
South African bowlers take the honours
South Africa's main bowlers have been listless in the tournament so far, but their career stats against West Indies are more encouraging: Shaun Pollock has an exceptional economy rate against them, while both Makhaya Ntini and Jacques Kallis have been among the wickets.
The West Indian bowlers, on the other hand, have struggled against South Africa, with Ian Bradshaw the only bowler having a respectable average. Daren Powell hasn't taken a wicket in the two ODIs he has played South Africa, while each wicket has cost the other bowlers a lot of runs.