Various scenarios headline South Africa-West Indies game



Pooran will look to steer West Indies to last-four

at the business end of a tournament, it is a great time for all the statisticians. It is that stage, where you bring out calculators and also apply simple logic to work on permutations and combinations. With all teams in Group 2 of the T20 World Cup 2024 having played two matches each, it is time for some number-crunching. South Africa lock horns against the West Indies in the last game of their Super Eights group. Players from both sides would also have an eye on the preceding USA-England match in Barbados. 

In a nutshell, if England defeat the USA, they would climb up to four points. If England bat first and pip the USA by a margin of 10 runs, or, if they bat second and chase down the target with an over to spare, then their NRR will also go past that of South Africa. So, despite having won both their games in the Super Eights, South Africa could still miss out on progressing to the next phase. That is, if they go on to lose their final game against the West Indies: The co-hosts have a better NRR compared to South Africa and would also have four points to their name.

South Africa and the West Indies would also be looking at the weather in Barbados. There is a decent chance that there could be a few showers at Bridgetown. If the USA versus England game gets called off, then the latter will depend on South Africa usurping the West Indies to enter the last-four. Phew! Leaving aside all the permutations and combinations, both South Africa and the West Indies would concentrate on the match in hand. 

The Proteas have had a rather interesting World Cup. They have won all their games so far, but none of them in a convincing fashion. However, to their credit, the bowling group, led by the likes of Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada, have time and again wriggled them out of difficult situations. Even in their previous encounter versus England, the latter seemed to be marching towards a win after Harry Brook and Liam Livingstone had taken a heavy toll off the South African bowlers for a few overs.

At the right juncture, the experienced pace duo of Nortje and Rabada pulled it back to help South Africa post an impressive victory. Their fielding, too, has been top-notch, with Aiden Markram leading the way. Meanwhile, the Rovman Powell-led West Indies put behind their morale-sapping loss to England with an easy victory over the USA. Shai Hope’s exhibition of stroke-play in that game would have brought some cheer to the camp. If there is any small chink in West Indies’ artillery, then it is perhaps their inconsistent seam attack.

Both sides have enough strengths and are evenly matched. The difference could come down to small margins.

Probable XIs

West Indies: Shai Hope, Johnson Charles, Nicholas Pooran, Roston Chase, Rovman Powell (c), Sherfane Rutherford, Andre Russell, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Gudakesh Motie, Obed McCoy.

South Africa: Quinton de Kock, Reeze Hendricks, Aiden Markram (c), Heinrich Klaasen, Tristan Stubbs, David Miller, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, O Baartman/Tabraiz Shamsi.

Weather and pitch conditions: The Antigua stadium has offered some bounce and a little bit of purchase for the spinners. Even if there is a shower or two, the stadium possesses an excellent drainage system.