Cape Town – If they can get past West
Indies on the often lotto-like track at Nagpur on Friday, South Africa will
take at least one major, comforting advantage into their final Group 1 fixture
against Sri Lanka at the ICC World Twenty20 tournament.
But it is a rather large “if”, given the likelihood
that their last match may turn academic assuming that the confident-looking
Caribbean outfit see them off at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium with
its tendency to be a slow, turning dustbowl and other results conspire against
West Indies lead Group 1 sporting two wins
from as many games – over England and Sri Lanka – with the Proteas second,
albeit that they only lead both the Lankans and English on net run rate as all
three lie on two points from two fixtures.
South Africa have also completed their game
against the only genuine minnow side in the group, Afghanistan, who must still
meet both of West Indies and England; both of those stronger powers will
doubtless be looking to beef up their run rates against the Afghanis.
The near-effortless manner in which the
West Indies brushed aside Sri Lanka by seven wickets in Bangalore on Sunday
suggests they may be deemed slight favourites by neutrals against Faf du
Plessis and company on Friday (16:00 SA time).
South Africa boast 6-3 historical supremacy
over the Windies in T20 international clashes, although the tourists won the
last bilateral series 2-1 on our soil in 2014/15.
If the Proteas do win, as they probably
will have to, the favourable aspect of their closing Group 1 obligation against
the Lankans will be knowledge of exactly what they need to do in fine
mathematical detail (of course the same will apply to their opponents if they
remain in contention as well) to secure semi-final qualification.
That is because the SA-Sri Lanka clash is
the very last of all group matches next Monday, ahead of the two semis on the
Wednesday and Thursday.
For the Proteas, the Nagpur venue where
they encounter West Indies will bring back fairly recent, uncomfortable
memories for the Test-playing members of their team: they were humiliated at
the crease – respective totals of 79 and 185 – in the third Test against India
in late November, tall off-spin maestro Ravichandran Ashwin claiming match
figures of 12/98.
South Africa have never previously played a
T20 international there, although can claim a notable Nagpur scalp in the
one-day international landscape; they beat hosts and eventual champions India
there by three wickets in the 2011 World Cup.
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing