With wins over India and South Africa respectively, Sri Lanka and Pakistan have thrown the contest for the semi-final spots wide open in Group B. As India will take on South Africa at the Kennington Oval on Sunday, the fixture is a virtual quarterfinal with the winner proceeding to the semi-final with 4 points. The same goes for the game between Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Defending champions India came into the tournament as the favourites to win the trophy for the second successive time. The campaign for Virat Kohli and his team started off well as they won the two warm-up games against New Zealand and Bangladesh quite convincingly. They faced arch-rivals Pakistan in their opening game of the match which they won by a huge margin of 124 runs.
In the next match, batting first, India posted a mammoth 321 on the board. Sri Lanka, contrary to everybody’s expectations, chased down the target with relative ease, keeping their hopes alive and making it mandatory for India to win against South Africa.
South Africa, on the other hand, were also seen as potential winners of the tournament as they came in as the no. 1 ranked team on the ICC ODI Rankings. They defeated Sri Lanka by a margin of 96 runs in their first match of the tournament. In the rain-hit game against Pakistan, South Africa were surprisingly outplayed as they lost the match by 19 runs by DLs method. Keen on removing their long-prevailing tag of Chokers, South Africa will be hoping for a win over India at the Oval.
Key Batsman – Shikhar Dhawan
The flamboyant left-hander is a different player altogether when it’s an ICC tournament. Dhawan, who started off with a century against the South Africans in the Champions Trophy 2013 and went on to win the player of the tournament, seems to be in fine touch this year as well, having scored a century and a half-century already. Dhawan has an excellent track record against South Africa, especially in high profile games as he has scored two centuries against them in the two matches he’s played in ICC tournaments. He will be the batsman South Africa will have to get rid of as soon as possible.
Key Bowler – Imran Tahir
The South African leggie has bowled brilliantly in the tournament so far, scalping 4 wickets in two games at an average of just 10.75. He was the major cause of damage against Sri Lanka, where his picked up four wickets to ensure that the Lankan chase never got the foundation it needed. He got to bowl just 2.3 overs against Pakistan before rain interrupted the game and Pakistan was declared the winner by DLs method. India will have to form strategies with Tahir’s tricky deliveries in mind.
Key All-Rounder – Chris Morris
He has scored 48 runs and picked 2 wickets in the 2 matches so far. His 28 against Pakistan was crucial for South Africa as 47 runs were added for the seventh wicket by Morris and Miller, taking the South African total beyond 200. He picked up two wickets against Sri Lanka to hinder the chase. He will be a crucial link for the Proteas against India as he can contribute with both bat and ball and is quite reliable.