West Indies vs South Africa, Super Eights, Grenada

Beware of the Lara factor

S Rajesh and Dileep V

April 9, 2007

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Brian Lara: an encore of his World Cup performance in 2003 or 1996 will do nicely for West Indies © Getty Images
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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.

Windies batsmen v South Africa
Batsman Innings Runs Dismissals Average
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 30 1217 26 46.80
Ramnaresh Sarwan 13 447 11 40.63
Chris Gayle 20 713 18 39.61
Brian Lara 36 1198 33 36.30

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.

Brian Lara v South African bowlers since 2002
Bowler Innings Runs Dismissals Average Balls Faced Strike Rate
Shaun Pollock 8 30 1 30 69 43.47
Makhaya Ntini 7 37 1 37 61 60.66
Jacques Kallis 7 53 1 53 72 73.61
Andre Nel 8 40 3 13.33 61 65.58

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 batsmen v West Indies
Batsman Innings Runs Dismissals Average
Jacques Kallis 28 1129 23 49.08
Herschelle Gibbs 24 852 21 40.57
Graeme Smith 11 404 11 36.72

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.

South African bowlers v West Indies
Bowler Matches Wickets Average Economy Rate
Shaun Pollock 29 36 25.02 3.69
Jacques Kallis 28 35 21.68 4.35
Makhaya Ntini 16 25 22.16 4.30
Andre Nel 12 14 33.35 4.75

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.

West Indies bowlers v South Africa
Bowler Matches Wickets Average Economy Rate
Ian Bradshaw 7 10 26.20 4.58
Chris Gayle 20 10 57.40 5.48
Corey Collymore 13 12 44.16 5.01
Dwayne Bravo 7 6 43.33 5.90

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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.
Tournament Results
Australia v Sri Lanka at Bridgetown - Apr 28, 2007
Australia won by 53 runs (D/L method)
Australia v South Africa at Gros Islet - Apr 25, 2007
Australia won by 7 wickets (with 111 balls remaining)
New Zealand v Sri Lanka at Kingston - Apr 24, 2007
Sri Lanka won by 81 runs
West Indies v England at Bridgetown - Apr 21, 2007
England won by 1 wicket (with 1 ball remaining)
Australia v New Zealand at St George's - Apr 20, 2007
Australia won by 215 runs
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