India Vs South Africa
Starting Time: 2:30 pm IST
Nagpur, March 11: India will want to consolidate their position at the top of Group B when they take the field against South Africa in Saturday, March 12th's crucial match, while the Proteas will want to pip this opposition to the post.
These two sides have seen a fair amount of each other since the last World Cup, India winning on 6 occasions and South Africa on five, a loss-win ratio which indicates that the competition between these two sides is nothing short of intense.
In the June-July 2007 bilateral series played in Ireland, which India won 2-1, Sachin Tendulkar was the highest run-getter with an aggregate of 200 at an average of 66.66. Present Proteas wicket-keepers Morne Van Wyk was South Africa's most successful batsman with an run-tally of 126 and an average of 42.00. Meanwhile, Yuvraj Singh emerged the most effective bowler, followed by Zaheer with three scalps a piece.
In India's Feb 2010 home series against the Proteas, which India also won 2-1, A B de Villiers trumped a blistering Sachin Tendulkar in the run-makers charts' with an average of 241.00 to the Little Master's 204.00!
Then in the last series these two sides faced off in, which was in the Rainbow Nation earlier this year, Hashim Amla and J P Duminy led India's Virat Kohli and Yusuf Pathan in the batting aggregates, while Proteas' Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Morne Morkel and India's Munaf Patel dominated the wicket-takers list with 13, 12, and 11 scalps, respectively, from 5 matches each.
So it seems that Zaheer Khan, Sachin Tendulkar and Yusuf Pathan will be India's key men against the Proteas going by their track record, while for the South Africans, the men to watch out for will be de Villiers, Amla, Tsotsobe and Morkel.
In the World Cup 2011 so far, the Proteas that have impressed the most have been de Villiers, who has notched up an average of 133.00 at a strike rate of well over 100 and Hashim Amla who has an average of 56.33. But the real trump card for South Africa will probably be leg-spinner Imran Tahir, who has consistently bamboozled the oppositions with his unique armoury. Only his suspected injury can keep him out of Saturday's match.
One must also not forget that it was at Napgpur one year ago that express Proteas paceman Dale Steyn picked up 7/51 in a Test match against India. Now he will be looking to convert his fortunes to one-day success against the same opposition.
So, all in all, the teams look evenly matched and when arguably the two strongest sides clash on Saturday, it should be a ripper of a match.