Semi-Final Preview: History beckons for South Africa or Afghanistan in the Caribbean « Khabarhub
Wednesday, July 24th, 2024

Semi-Final Preview: History beckons for South Africa or Afghanistan in the Caribbean

India eye revenge against defending champions England 

26 June 2024  

Time taken to read : 9 Minute

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A first appearance in a Men’s World Cup Final is on the line when South Africa host Afghanistan in the first semi-final at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024.

Afghanistan’s progression to the semi-finals of the World Cup is a remarkable achievement for a team who have been on the rise in this format for some time, with New Zealand and Australia the highest-ranked teams knocked out in Afghanistan’s wake.

Unbeaten South Africa stand in their way, with the nation hoping it’s eighth-time lucky at a men’s World Cup semi-final across formats, with a current record of played seven, lost seven.

With a powerful batting line-up that possesses attacking weapons right down to number seven and a bowling attack that has pace and guile aplenty, South Africa will have confidence that 2024 will finally be their year.

The Match Details

South Africa v Afghanistan, Wednesday June 26 (8:30pm local), Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba, Trinidad and Tobago

The Venue

The Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba is a 15,000-capacity ground that is hosting its fifth and final match of the tournament.

All four previous matches came in Group C during the first group stage, where runs proved reasonably hard to come by. West Indies’ 149/9 against New Zealand was the highest total at the venue across the four fixtures.

How They Got Here

South Africa have a perfect record at the tournament, but have been pushed close a number of times across their seven matches.

Netherlands, Bangladesh and Nepal will all feel they could and maybe should have beaten the Proteas during the group stage. before tournament co-hosts USA gave them a bit of a scare at the start of the Super Eights.

Fascinating matches against England and West Indies were both in the balance for long stretches until South Africa came out on top in each.

Such a run is either a sign of a team in winning form or one that is consistently vulnerable, and it is tough to ascertain which is the leading characteristic.

Afghanistan’s brilliant win over Australia was key to their progression to the semi-finals, but they’ve been impressive right the way through the tournament.

Drawn in the toughest of the initial groups, they progressed at the expense of frequent semi-finalists New Zealand. And, after a loss to India, they upset Australia and then made it past a Bangladesh banana skin to make history and seal their first semi-final spot.

The Squads

South Africa: Aiden Markram (c), Ottniel Baartman, Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Ryan Rickelton, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs

Afghanistan: Rashid Khan (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Azmatullah Omarzai, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Ishaq, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Janat, Nangyal Kharoti, Hazratullah Zazai, Noor Ahmad, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Fareed Ahmad Malik.

Team Selections

For South Africa the big decision will be whether to stick with a second front-line spinner in Tabraiz Shamsi, or bring back an additional pace option in Ottneil Baartman, who has played in five matches at this tournament so far.

Afghanistan experimented with adding Hazratullah Zazai as an additional top-order player against India to try and add a bit of solidity in the face of such a high-quality bowling attack.

They could be tempted to do the same again, but potentially with the incoming batter in at No. 3 on this occasion to leave the Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmanullah Gurbaz partnership settled.

India eye revenge against defending champions England 

India versus England in a Men’s T20 World Cup semi-final – this is a game where more cricket history will be written.

The last time these two nations faced off in a Men’s T20 World Cup semi-final was just 19 months ago in Adelaide, when a remarkable opening partnership between Jos Buttler and Alex Hales saw England cruise to victory in the sort of manner that forced a complete rethink in India’s T20 strategy.

This time around, though, India have more batting firepower, more options through the middle overs, and more variation in their attack, but the defending champions will take some beating, especially with Buttler and his new opening partner Phil Salt both in blistering form.

England are two games away from becoming the first men’s team to retain a T20 World Cup.

India have not won this tournament since its inception back in 2007, and are searching for their first World Cup win in any format since 2011.

The Match Details

India v England, Thursday June 27 (10:30am local), Guyana National Stadium, Guyana

The Venue

The Guyana National Stadium is a 20,000-seater venue on the outskirts of Georgetown, situated just off the banks of the Demerara River and a few kilometres from the coast.

This is the sixth and final game to be held at the venue during the tournament, with the previous five all coming in Group C during the first-round stage. Spinners have been quite effective on the ground, but there’s also been a bit in the surface for the quicks, with the highest score across the five games being Afghanistan’s 183/5 against Uganda.

How They Got Here

India have won every game they’ve been able to compete in, with the only dropped points coming from the abandoned fixture against Canada at a rain-soaked Lauderhill.

Impressive wins over Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Australia secured their spot in the knockout stages as the winners of Group 1 in the Super Eight.

England, by contrast, have got here the hard way.

A rained-off match against Scotland was followed by a loss to Australia right at the start of their campaign, leaving them needing huge wins and favours from elsewhere to reach the Super Eights.

But they managed just that, qualifying ahead of Scotland on Net Run Rate.

And in the Super Eight, a loss to South Africa meant England were sweating somewhat, despite already having comfortably beaten hosts West Indies.

That win, and the nature of it, proved important, giving them a significant Net Run Rate advantage that they boosted further with a hammering of the USA to effectively qualify with a game to spare.

South Africa’s victory over West Indies consigned them to second spot in the group, sending them to this semi-final rather than being the top seed in semi-final 1.

The Squads

India squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Siraj.

England squad: Jos Buttler (c), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonathan Bairstow, Harry Brook, Sam Curran, Ben Duckett, Tom Hartley, Will Jacks, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Adil Rashid, Phil Salt, Reece Topley, Mark Wood

Team Selections

India named a settled side throughout their Super Eight campaign, having added Kuldeep Yadav in place of Mohammed Siraj from the team who dominated the Group Stage.

It is quite likely they will continue with that exact balance, given it offers six frontline bowling options, with three pacers and three spinners.

The only possible change, given the expected nature of the Guyana surface, is that Yuzvendra Chahal could be added for another spinning threat.

England moved away from the batting-heavy balance that they started the tournament with, leaving out Will Jacks and playing four front-line pace bowlers, with Sam Curran and Chris Jordan slotting in at seven and eight to avoid an excessively lengthy tail, and Mark Wood missing out.

There could be the option of bringing Jacks back as a part-time spin option, or even handing a debut to Tom Hartley who is in the squad as an additional main spinner.

But England do have Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone in their top six, both of whom have bowled well when called upon, so may opt to stick with the formula that got them through the Super Eight.

Publish Date : 26 June 2024 08:33 AM

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