Confident India lock horns with South Africa

Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Team India will face their first big challenge of the World T20 tournament when they will take on South Africa on Sunday.

updated: May 02, 2010 17:58 IST
  • Total Shares

New Delhi:

After getting past Afghanistan team on Saturday, Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Team India will face their first big challenge of the World T20 tournament when they will take on South Africa on Sunday at Gros Islet, St Lucia.

So far India and South Africa have played three T20 Internationals against each other with India winning two and losing one, but Dhoni said history would count for little on Sunday.

"It's always a fresh start, South Africa are a very good side with several match-winners.

His South African counterpart Graeme Smith said: "We have played against India a little bit of late and with a lot of our guys involved in the Indian Premier League, we have first hand knowledge of a lot of their players".

"I think we have only lost two games since this competition started. Even though we have only played two T20s since the last tournament (England, 2009), we have generally got a good record in this format and we like to carry that on," he added.

Despite having a great international record, South Africa somehow have not been able to get rid of their 'chokers' tag. And a win over India will a big booster for their confidence.

Smith also indicated that he would be going with more than one spinner in the game on Sunday. "We beat India at Trent Bridge on a slow turner. Most of the wickets seem to be a little bit slower and taking a bit of spin. Our options are open. In our armoury we have got pace and spin. I think we have got enough there to challenge India's batters," he said.

India, on the other hand, will have to guard against complacency after a crushing 7-wicket win over Afghanistan on Saturday. "With this win, hopefully we will qualify for the next stage. All the teams after this stage will be the best teams with the potential of winning the World Twenty20 but in international cricket, nothing comes easy," Dhoni said.

Murali Vijay, who caught people's imagination in the recently concluded Indian Premier League with his lofty shots and rock solid innings, made an impressive Twenty20 debut with a knock of 48 runs.

"Murali Vijay is an asset to the team. We saw during the IPL what he can do with the bat. He is a batsman who looks quiet but is capable of playing big shots when the situation warrants. Apart from his batting, he is good in the outfield. He covers a lot of ground which is good for the team," said Dhoni.

Also Yuvraj Singh regaining his touch should be a great relief for the team as his presence in the middle can swing the match in India's favour. "The talent that he has marks him as one of the most dangerous players in international cricket. He is one of the most destructive batsmen in the T20 format," skipper said.

The Indian bowlers also did well on the Caribbean pitch. While slow bowlers checked the run-flow, pacers Ashish Nehra and Praveen Kumar kept picking wickets at regular intervals. However, it will not be an easy task to contain seasoned pros Mark Boucher, Herschelle Gibbs with an equal ease.

Jacques Kallis did a wonderful job opening the batting for the Bangalore Royal Challengers at the Indian Premier League but the selectors might be reluctant to break up the Smith-Loots Bosman combination that was responsible for a world record partnership of 170 the last time the Proteas played a Pro20 International.

South Africa will look to shock India to create sporting momentum for the country and send warnings to other teams competing in the tournament. India will like to surge ahead with a convincing win over the Proteas and improve their chances in the tournament that they had won in 2007.