PERTH: Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje are expected to spit fire on a track that will offer steep bounce as the India top-order gears up for its toughest test in adverse conditions against a top-notch South Africa side in the T20 World Cup here on Sunday.
The Super 12 match, in all likelihood, will decide the Group 2 topper and India’s probable semi-final venue. The WACA was the traditional venue in the city for many decades, but now, the concrete jungle called the Optus Stadium hosts the international games. What is similar to both grounds is the spicy nature of the tracks and the good bounce on offer that will make life difficult for the batters.
In this backdrop, Rabada and Nortje, two of the world’s most fearsome speed merchants, are expected to pose some tough questions for India skipper Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav. The extra pace off the track will give the batters that split second less to react and it will be interesting to see the approach of the Indians.
As far as the South Africa bowling combination is concerned, it will not be surprising if the ‘Proteas’ drops left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi and includes an extra pacer in Marco Jansen or Lungi Ngidi. Two spinners in the eleven – the other being Keshav Maharaj – at Optus could be a luxury unless South Africa is looking to speed up the over-rate.
Since the Temba Bavuma-led team possesses three quality left-handed batters in opener Quinton de Kock, Rilee Rossouw and David Miller, Axar Patel will have his task cut out if he retains his place in the eleven. With conditions aiding fast bowling, Hardik Pandya may complete the full quota of four overs along with his three pace colleagues – Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Arshdeep Singh.
Rossouw will head into the match on the back of consecutive T20I hundreds and could be the biggest threat with the blade. Besides the left-handed trio, South Africa has in its ranks the exciting and talented Tristan Stubbs, who is playing in his maiden T20 World Cup. The only cause for concern is the poor form of Bavuma as the opening batter has looked completely out of touch in recent times.
Adelaide could be India’s semi-final destination if it topples South Africa and then defeats Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in its next two games. The topper of the group will play in Adelaide on November 10. However, India could end up travelling to Sydney even after topping Group 2 in case Australia finishes as runner-up in Group 1. The host’s fixed semi-final venue is due to a pre-tournament arrangement.