1. South Africa v Pakistan at Colombo – 10:00 GMT/ 15:30 IST
The 1st match from the ‘Group of Death’ is between South Africa and Pakistan. This group also consists of India and Australia, making it much more competitive than the other group for the Super Eights. All matches of this ‘Group of Death’ will be of a high level, as the best teams are against each other, and tight finishes are waiting in line. First up today is RSA v PAK, featuring two teams who are very unpredictable, and can perform at their best, or their worst, making it hard to predict which way will they turn today. RSA and Pak have met 5 times in T20 Internationals, in which South Africa has upper hand, winning 3 matches, while Pakistan has won 2.
South Africa and Pakistan both won each of their two group matches. South Africa cruised past African rivals Zimbabwe, winning by 10 wickets, and had a lottery 7 over-a-side game against the Lankans, when they performed very well in rain-curtailed conditions. Pakistan had a competitive opposition in both matches, as they defended a decent total against a determined New Zealand team, and had to counter-attack Bangladesh after the minnows put up a strong score on the board. Therefore, both teams have had good preparation before the Super Eights, which will make the match very hard-fought. I feel that it will be won on the narrowest of margins if all goes well for both teams.
South Africa, under the leadership of AB De Villiers and the coaching of Gary Kirsten, are looking more confident and stable in big tournaments, where they have had a tag of chokers in the past. Pakistan, under Hafeez, have became more professional, while a stability has been evident, as their bowling unit, arguably the best in the world, has done the business, and the batting has also hit top level.
Predicting a result between these two teams is a tricky thing but my sixth sense says that South Africa will win in a tight match which can go either way. The toss will be important, and chances of rain will help decide the eventual result. South Africa has a slight upper hand in the batting and fast bowling department, while Pakistan bank on their spinners.
Players to watchout for South Africa – Amla, Kallis, De Villiers and Steyn
Players to watchout for Pakistan – Hafeez, Jamshed, Afridi and Ajmal
Possible Playing X1 :
RSA – 1.) Hashim Amla, 2.) Richard Levi, 3.) Jacques Kallis, 4.) AB DeVilliers(C & wk), 5.) JP Duminy, 6.) Farhaan Behardien, 7.) Albie Morkel, 8.) Johan Botha, 9.) Robin Peterson, 10.) Dale Steyn, 11.) Morne Morkel
PAK – 1.) Mohammed Hafeez(C), 2.) Imran Nazir, 3.) Nasir Jamshed, 4.) Kamran Akmal(wk), 5.) Umar Akmal, 6.) Shoaib Malik, 7.) Shahid Afridi, 8.) Sohail Tanvir, 9.) Yasir Arafat, 10.) Umar Gul, 11.) Saeed Ajmal
2. India v Australia at Colombo – 14:00 GMT/ 19:30 IST
The 2nd match from the Group of Death is the dream final between India and Australia. The rivalry between these countries in last decade has been one of the best in the world, as both have been very competitive. The match, to be played at Colombo, will be hard to predict. Australia and India have met 6 times in T20Is, with three victories each.
India and Australia both won their two group matches, entering the Super Eights with a solid base, if not spectacular form. India had a difficult time for a length of match against Afghanistan, where they eventually came out on top thanks to their experience. They followed that up with the demolition of a lacklustre England, where everything clicked for Team India, especially their spinners. Australia on the other hand thrashed Ireland while chasing a modest total, and had luck favouring them against West Indies, when a few good overs with the bat, and the D/L method helped them win the match.
All eyes will be on the team selection from MS Dhoni, as the captain will decide which player to sit out. In the pre-match conference Dhoni said that the team is going with five bowlers, so who will be dropped – Sehwag or Yuvraj? That will be the dilemma. Australia on the other hand have a settled playing XI which is unlikely to be changed. Shane Watson is in top form with both bat n ball, and has claimed Man of the Match awards in both his matches.
India are slight favourites to me for this match because of the sub-continent conditions as well their better batting. The Aussie batsmen aren’t great at playing spin, which tilts the game towards India, but anything can happen, as it will be a tight match. India have strong batting line-up and good spin bowling, while Australia bank on their fast bowlers and openers to fire. The toss will be crucial if the rain is around.
Players to watchout for India - Kohli, Dhoni, Harbhajan and Ashwin
Players to watchout for Australia – Warner, Watson, Starc and Cummins
Possible Playing X1 :
IND – 1.) Gautam Gambhir, 2.) Irfan Pathan, 3.) Virat Kohli, 4.) Yuvraj Singh, 5.) Rohit Sharma, 6.) Suresh Raina, 7.) MS Dhoni(C & wk), 8.) Harbhajan Singh, 9.) R Ashwin, 10.) Zaheer Khan, 11.) L Balaji
AUS – 1.) David Warner, 2.) Shane Watson, 3.) Michael Hussey, 4.) George Bailey(C), 5.) Cameron White, 6.) Glenn Maxwell, 7.) Matthew Wade(wk), 8.) Daniel Christian, 9.) Pat Cummins, 10.) Mitchell Starc, 11.) Brad Hogg