India vs South Africa: India eye clinical display against formidable South Africa

India's Pooja Vastrakar and South Africa's Sune Luus have had success at the tournament © Getty Images

The very last match of the group stage will see India take on South Africa at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Sunday. While South Africa are already through to the semi-finals, India will be assured of a semis berth if they win their last match.

What’s at stake

South Africa are second on the points table and will remain there irrespective of the result of the match, whereas India can finish anywhere between 3rd and 6th based on the game’s outcome as well as the other result of the day from the match between Bangladesh and England.

Can India’s big names fire?

Most of India’s big names have had one standout innings so far in the tournament but it has been the relatively inexperienced trio of Yastika Bhatia, Pooja Vastrakar and Sneh Rana that has saved India the blushes in crunch matches in this tournament.

Vastrakar and Rana have both taken ten wickets so far in the tournament, while lead spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad has also been extremely economical while picking up key wickets. With the surface at the Hagley Oval being seam friendly, India will want to bring in the impressive Meghna Singh back into the XI instead of Poonam Yadav.

ALSO READ: The many rescue acts of ‘saviour’ Sneh Rana

Jhulan Goswami will once again have the onus of providing India with the early breakthroughs in what has been a largely successful tournament for her, barring a couple of off days against West Indies and Australia.

What India have sorely lacked though is centuries, with only Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur getting one each against the West Indies. This being a do-or-die match, India would want one of their top three to get a big hundred to gain control of the match.

South Africa’s combination issues

South Africa have only lost one of their six matches in the tournament so far but their campaign has threatened to veer off course in the last couple of matches as their batting and bowling weren’t up to the mark in the matches against West Indies and Australia respectively.

The no. 3 batter and the fifth bowler have been a couple of problematic areas for South Africa and they have struggled to find success in those two roles. With Masabata Klaas back to full fitness, the latter can be taken care of by playing her in the XI. As for the no. 3 batter, South Africa might be better served by playing the in-form Sune Luus at the spot with everyone else moving up a spot as well. While another option could be playing Trisha Chetty in that role as she has plenty of experience of batting in the top order and has looked in good touch as well in the tournament so far.

ALSO READ: Marizanne Kapp’s nerves of steel fuel unbeaten South Africa

What they said:

“I am always ready for any sort of situation, even when I was not in the squad. When I was included in the squad against Australia, I was ready for it as I always thought that I may be given a chance on any given day. Coaches were backing me when I was in nets. Our batting coach always gave me confidence, which is a very good thing. He always worked on my weak and strong points.”

– Shafali Verma thanks Shiv Sundar Das for his support when she was on the sidelines.

“It was just great that despite losing a couple of wickets in the West Indies game I felt – we’ll be early – Mignon put up her hand, which is fantastic to see.  We are at the business end of the tournament now, just to see this kind of performance is always fantastic. We know what a player she is and we knew she was about to bounce back sometime, so I’m just thankful that she’s a little bit positive going into the India game”

– Chloe Tryon is pleased with Mignon du Preez’s form heading into the knockouts.

Players to watch out for:

Shafali Verma: Shafali was dropped after just one game in the tournament but her inclusion has helped India improve their scoring rate in the Powerplay as well as attack the opposition bowlers early. She scored a run a ball 42 against Bangladesh in the last match on a slow pitch and India would want her to get a big one on Sunday to make it to the knockouts.

Chloe Tryon: The South African powerhouse has had to shoulder a lot of responsibility with the bat as well as ball in Dane van Niekerk’s absence. Tryon has contained the scoring rate well with her left arm spin but she has not made the gamechanging contribution with the bat so far which is expected of her. If Tryon gets going, it will solve South Africa’s middle order as well as slow scoring woes in one go.

Numbers:

Head to head: Played 27 matches, India 15 – 11 South Africa; 1 No Result

Predicted XI:

India: Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia, Mithali Raj (c), Harmanpreet Kaur, Richa Ghosh (wk), Sneh Rana, Pooja Vastrakar, Jhulan Goswami, Meghna Singh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad

South Africa: Lizelle Lee, Laura Wolvaardt, Sune Luus (c), Mignon du Preez, Marizanne Kapp, Chloe Tryon, Trisha Chetty (wk), Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Nkululeko Mlaba