India v South Africa, Group C, ICC World Twenty20, St Lucia May 1, 2010

SA look for early progression to round two

Match Facts

Sunday, May 2, Gros Islet
Start time 0930 (1330 GMT)

The Big Picture

India could complain about having to play two matches on the weekend and then having nothing to do over the rest of the week, but that's a price you pay for being the main commercial draw of the tournament. You play on the weekend, you play in prime time. Two of India's other three matches are on Friday and Sunday, and are meant to start at 7pm India time. They have had a good enough start to their tournament, with a win against Afghanistan, but starting against major opposition they would like to show they deserve the prime-time slots they get.

India would fancy their chances on the slower pitches against South Africa, but when the two teams last met, it was on a slow turner at Trent Bridge and India failed to chase 131. South Africa, always strong in big events, always underachieving in them, would like to ensure their place in the next round even before they play their easier match, against Afghanistan. Unless Afghanistan pull off a huge upset against South Africa, this match counts for little except for some momentum if India and South Africa meet later in a knockout match.

Form guide (most recent first)

India WWLLL
South Africa WLLWW

Watch out for...

M Vijay, the late replacement for Virender Sehwag, got his Twenty20 international career off to a good start with 48 against Afghanistan, but the big test of how well India are doing without Sehwag will come against a strong team like South Africa.

India have experienced the pace of the pitches and will bowl a lot of slow bowlers against a side not known to be the best against the spinners. In that scenario, AB de Villiers' quick foot work and soft hands will come in handy to ensure South Africa don't stall in the middle overs.

Team news

India made an interesting move against Afghanistan, picking both Yusuf Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja ahead of a sixth specialist batsman. Apart from that mini dilemma, India should play the same XI.

India (possible) 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 M Vijay, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Rohit Sharma/Yusuf Pathan, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Ashish Nehra.

South Africa will like to play both their spinners. The big decision will be the choice of opener, between Herschelle Gibbs and Loots Bosman.

South Africa (possible) 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Loots Bosman/Herschelle Gibbs, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Albie Morkel, 7 Mark Boucher (wk), 8 Roelof van der Merwe, 9 Johan Botha, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Charl Langeveldt.

Pitch and conditions

After the first day of the matches in St Lucia, it is evident boundaries are not easy to come by. It is a big ground, and the outfield is slightly lush, which will put more impetus on quick running and out-cricket. The pitch is a bit slow too, which will keep the spinners interested. An early-morning start could mean a bit of moisture in the track.

Stats and trivia

  • India lead the head-to-head 2-1, having won twice in South Africa before losing once in England.

  • India-South Africa matches have been generally low-scoring: in the six innings between them, only once has 130 been passed, when India scored 153 in Durban and then kept South Africa to 116.

    Quotes

    "Ultimately it is an honour, a privilege to put yourself in a position to win the tournament. But it's a long way away at the moment from every team here. So we are just going to focus on India, which is our first game."
    Graeme Smith is not yet thinking about the big knockout matches

    "Most of our players look quite fresh, even after the IPL. This is something we have learned from the World Twenty in England last year. I don't think that will hamper our performances but it will be a big challenge."
    MS Dhoni says his players aren't fatigued

    Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo