Inspired West Indies look for encore
Match factsSaturday, June 13
Start time 1330 local (1230 GMT)
As challenges go, it's about as tough as it can get: less than a day after convincingly getting the better of one of the tournament favourites, West Indies need to gear themselves up to take on another. The unkind scheduling means Chris Gayle and Co have less than 18 hours between games against India and South Africa, but so comprehensive was their victory on Friday that they'll back themselves to do an encore when they take on South Africa at The Oval on Saturday.
Dwayne Bravo was scintillating against India, Fidel Edwards showed plenty of fire with his short-pitched bowling with the new ball, and Lendl Simmons' cool head ensured the experience and skill of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan was hardly needed. The challenge is to reproduce the same levels of intensity, for nothing less will do against a side which is on a hot streak, and is looking to become the first team to win six Twenty20 internationals on the trot.
South Africa, along with Sri Lanka, have been the form team of the tournament so far. Unlike the mercurial and unpredictable West Indies, the South Africans take pride in their consistency, and have shown that it takes plenty for them to be beaten, even in a 20-over game. The bowlers have been outstanding, rescuing what seemed a lost cause against New Zealand, and the batting has plenty of depth and class. Can West Indies upset the form book twice in two days?
Form guide(last five matches, most recent first)
South Africa: WWWWW
South Africa have had few concerns over form. Jacques Kallis' move to the top of the order has added even more solidity to their batting, while the bowling has been in top shape.
West Indies: WLWWL
Things are slowly falling into place for West Indies in a format they clearly comfortable with. Bravo's outstanding all-round performance had much to do with it, but there were several other encouraging signs too. The new-ball bowling remains a bit of a worry, though - Fidel Edwards and Jerome Taylor have each had a bad match in the last two games.
Watch out for...
Dwayne Bravo had a dream game against India, and he'll have only 17 hours to recover for the next big challenge. Bravo is a big-match player, though - expect him to be up for that challenge.
Herschelle Gibbs: In a team with hardly any kinks, Gibbs has been the off-colour player so far, scoring only 49 in three innings. He is due a big score.
Gayle v Steyn: Steyn has taken four wickets at 5.63 per over so far in the tournament, while Gayle has the highest score in an innings. The outcome of their clash could be one of the keys to the result of the game.
So smooth was South Africa's execution in every aspect against England, that they are almost certain to field the same XI.
South Africa: (probable) 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Jacques Kallis, 3 Herschelle Gibbs, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Mark Boucher (wk), 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Roelof van der Merwe, 9 Johan Botha, 10 Wayne Parnell, 11 Dale Steyn.
West Indies had chosen Lendl Simmons over Xavier Marshall against India, and that choice worked perfectly for them, with Simmons being outstanding in the field and scoring a vital 44. They're most likely to go with the same team too.
West Indies: (probable) 1 Chris Gayle (capt), 2 Andre Fletcher, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 4 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Lendl Simmons, 7 Kieron Pollard, 8 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 9 Jerome Taylor, 10 Fidel Edwards, 11 Suleiman Benn.
Stats and Trivia
- South Africa are searching for their sixth successive win in Twenty20 internationals, a feat that has never been achieved in this format so far.
- South Africa have been by far the best bowling team in the tournament, conceding only 5.74 runs per over. West Indies have conceded 8.56, the third-highest in the competition.
- West Indies have been the best batting team, though, scoring at 9.26 runs per over. South Africa average 7.76 per over.
- South Africa have won two out of three Twenty20 internationals against West Indies. All three games between the two teams have been won by the team batting second.
"I am very pleased about how we performed. We took lots of catches. Two games remain but credit to the guys."
Chris Gayle is delighted with the strong showing against India
"The favourite tag has been on our head since we played the first match. What is important for us at this phase is to get to the semi-finals and work towards that challenge."
South African captain Graeme Smith is not willing to be carried away by this success so far.
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo