South Africa, West Indies jostle for semi-final berth

Updated: June 13, 2013, 1:29 PM IST

Cardiff: With the semifinal slot up for grabs, South Africa and West Indies would be locked in what would be a virtual quarter-final when they take on each other in their last Group B match of the ICC Champions Trophy here on Friday.

South Africa lost their opening game to India before getting the better of Pakistan, results which are similar to what the West Indies have managed so far in the tournament.

India are already through to the semi-finals after two wins out of two, while Pakistan are out of contention. That leaves South Africa and West Indies to lock horns in a battle for the second semifinal spot.

South Africa have got a shot in the arm ahead of the crucial match with pacer Dale Steyn returning to fitness. He bowled in the nets yesterday without any discomfort after being laid low by a side strain.

"Dale is progressing quite well. He came through his net session today without any discomfort," Mohammed Moosajee, South Africa's team manager, who is also a doctor, said yesterday.

"We will watch him overnight to see if he wakes up with any stiffness. If he comes through tomorrow's practice then he should be available."

As far as the batting prowess goes, both teams seem evenly matched even though the Chris Gayle factor could tilt the scales in the West Indies' favour if the swashbuckler comes up with one of his hurricane knocks.

For South Africa, Hashim Amla's form remains crucial as he would be expected to play the sheet-anchor's role. The likes of AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and J P Duminy are gamechangers, who can accelerate on a solid start.

The West Indian batting also features quite a few aggressors apart from Gayle, who is yet to score big in the ongoing edition despite being top run-getter in the overall Champions Trophy stats.

Kieron Pollard and Marlon Samuels are two other big-hitters who would be expected to come good.

On the bowling front, South Africa have the distinct edge, especially if Steyn returns to the squad.

For West Indies, spinner Sunil Narine remains a crucial cog as he proved his worth yet against when he picked up a couple of wickets against India, albeit for a losing cause in their previous match.

South Africa, on the other hand, have a strong bowling line-up, which stifled Pakistan in their previous game.

Medium-pacer Ryan McLaren was especially destructive with a four-wicket haul.

Probable XIs:

South Africa: 1 Colin Ingram, 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Faf du Plessis, 4 AB de Villiers (capt/wk), 5 Jean-Paul Duminy, 6 David Miller, 7 Ryan McLaren, 8 Robin Peterson, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Chris Morris, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

West Indies: 1 Johnson Charles (wk), 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Dwayne Bravo (capt), 8 Darren Sammy, 9 Ravi Rampaul, 10 Sunil Narine, 11 Kemar Roach.

First Published: June 13, 2013, 1:29 PM IST

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