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India have done well against South Africa in T20Is and might improve their record further given their form and the favourable conditions at Mirpur
April 3, 2014
The two teams have progressed to the semi-finals in contrasting fashion. India have waltzed in there after winning all their matches comfortably. They are the only unbeaten team in the league stages. Their narrowest win came against West Indies - by seven wickets with two balls to spare. Even in that game India had progressed to a stage when they needed just 23 runs from 32 balls with eight wickets in hand.
South Africa have had to sweat it out. After ending up with a defeat from a winning position against Sri Lanka - they fell short by five runs chasing 165, after having scored 110 for 3 at the end of the 14th over - South Africa had to work hard for their wins in the remaining games. They snatched a win from New Zealand in the last over: Dale Steyn managed to defend what were the lowest runs to have been defended in T20Is in the last over - seven. This had only been done twice before - South Africa themselves had done it against the same opposition at Eden Park in 2012 and two days later Ireland did this in a match against Kenya. Ireland contrived to lose from a winning position against them. Their win against England, though hard earned, wasn't as hard as the three-run margin suggests.
India's bowlers did a fine job of restricting the opposition in the league matches: the highest total that was scored against them in these three matches was 138, by Bangladesh. India batted second in three of their four games and the targets have obviously not tested their batsmen - evident from the fact that they have one of the lowest strike rates in the tournament and have lost the fewest wickets. India's batsmen (click here for their tournament stats) have averaged 35.4 and scored five fifty-plus scores - both the highest among teams in the league stage. South Africa's batsmen (click here for their tournament stats) have scored the most runs by any team in the main league stage and have the best strike rate as well. They have scored heavily in the last-five overs: their scoring rate of 10.6 being second only to West Indies' 11.3.
South Africa's bowlers - much like their batsmen - have had to work hard. With South Africa bowling second in three of their matches, their bowlers have got the worse of the conditions under the lights at Chittagong, which has been the more difficult venue for bowlers with dew being a factor on occasions. Despite this, their bowlers have managed 30 wickets in the league stage - the second highest by any team in the tournament. They have also leaked runs though: their economy of 8.26 is one of the worst among teams. South Africa's area of concern has been their bowling in the Powerplay overs - they have taken only four wickets in these overs and have conceded runs at 8.91 runs an over. Their economy in these overs in the worst among the ten teams in the league stage and a run and a fraction more than the next worst.
India's bowling in this tournament, helped by the spin-friendly conditions at Mirpur, has come up trumps. Their economy of 6.17 in this World T20 has been the best among teams. While their spinners have lead from the front, their medium pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has bowled extremely well too. He has played an important role in restricting the opposition batsmen. His economy of 4.33 in this tournament is the best among bowlers who have bowled at least five overs. India have been the best bowling unit in the Powerplays too, with an economy of 4.5 in these overs. Bhuvneshwar has bowled ten overs in the Powerplays conceding just 34 runs - among bowlers who have bowled a minimum of five overs in the Powerplays, no bowler has done better.
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Chittagong has been the venue where spinners - Sri Lanka's on both occasions - have completely annihilated their opposition in a couple of games. However, given the slow and dry conditions at Mirpur, spinners have been trusted to bowl more here compared with Chittagong. In ten league matches at Mirpur, spinners have bowled 205 overs -an average of 10.2 overs per innings - to 95 overs at Chittagong.
India and South Africa are playing each other in the knockout stages of a major (involving five or more teams) limited-overs tournament after more than ten years. The last time these two teams played each other in such a game was in the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy in 2002. There have been three such encounters between the teams with India coming out on top on all occasions. In T20Is though, this will be their first match in the knockout stage. Both the teams have made it to the semi-finals of the World T20s once before. While India went on to win the tournament in 2007, South Africa lost to the eventual champions, Pakistan, in 2009. Overall in T20Is, India have played South Africa in seven T20Is and have won five of them - the most they have against any team.
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Shiva Jayaraman is a sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo.comFeeds: Shiva Jayaraman
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