India play for pride, SA seek revenge in inconsequential match

a shattered India will only have pride to play for against fast-emerging contenders South Africa in their final Super Eight match of the World Twenty20.

updated: June 16, 2009 07:51 IST
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After the unceremonious end to their title defence, a shattered India will only have pride to play for against fast-emerging contenders South Africa in their final Super Eight match of the World Twenty20 here on Tuesday.

The three-run defeat against England did not just end India's title hopes, it also put the breaks on Mahendra Singh Dhoni's golden run as captain.

The man who could do no wrong till a few days ago is now being squarely blamed for India's doomed campaign and questions are being raised at his penchant for taking gambles even in crunch situations.

Dhoni has publicly apologised to the nation for the team's performance and he would now be focussing on notching up a consolation win to bid a graceful adieu to the tournament.

But considering the form South Africa is in, the task looks far from easy.

The unbeaten Proteas are already assured of a place in the sem-finals and would be looking to keep the slate clean going into the knockout stage.

Graeme Smith's men would also be gunning for revenge against the Indians, who had ended their campaign in the 2007 edition in a match won on better run-rate.

South African coach Micky Arthur has already vowed revenge against the Indians for that loss. The batting line-up, which was considered India's biggest strength before the tournament, has let the team down on more than one occasion.

Explosive opener Virender Sehwag's absence has exposed the frailties of the line-up, which is currently over-relying on Yuvraj Singh.

The left-hander has done reasonably well but the opening arrangement of Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhir has not clicked when faced with probing attacks.

The two flourished against minnows Bangladesh and Ireland but floundered against stronger rivals West Indies and England on Sunday.

In bowling, Ishant Sharma has been a huge disappointment and is without a wicket for the past three matches although Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh have been doing the job well. South Africa, in contrast, seem unstoppable with their batting and bowling doing well in equal measure.

Herschelle Gibbs, A B de Villiers and Graeme Smith are all in form and they are being backed by a potent bowling attack led by teen sensation Wayne Parnell.

The 19-year-old left-arm paceman is one of South Africa's success stories on this tour, having claimed eight wickets from four matches so far at a niggardly average of 8.87.

"Wayne is one who wants to try himself out against the best. So he is itching to have a go at the Indians. For a young lad, he is very mature," said Arthur.

India's well-known susceptibility to the short-pitched stuff is bound to be exploited by the likes of Parnell and Dale Steyn.

Roelf van der Merwe has been managing the Proteas spin department well and this balance has made Smith's men the favourites to lift the title.

Teams (from):

India: Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Pragyan Ojha, Yusuf Pathan, Irfan Pathan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and RP Singh.

South Africa: Jacques Kallis, Herschelle Gibbs, Graeme Smith, AB de Villiers, Albie Morkel, Mark Boucher, Jean-paul Duminy, Roef van der Merwe, Johan Botha, Dale Steyn and Wayne Parnell.

Umpires: Billy Bowden and Ian Gould

Third umpire: Simon Taufel Match referee: Chris Broad

Match to begin at 10 pm IST.