Himanshu Dubey

Two well-matched sides playing each other, get ready for a cricketing brilliance on display. It’s the biggest game of the World Cup till now as top two ODI sides will take the same field on Saturday in a contest that promises to be as thrilling as a hair-raising Hollywood flick starring some of the legends of the game.

India-South Africa know each other well and recently played a highly competitive, tuff-fought ODI series, coming into the World Cup, in the rainbow nation where the hosts effectively used the home advantage to get the better of Team India by a slender win margin.

The tables have turned, then hosts are visitors now but India’s home advantage is nullified by the pressure of playing the World Cup game at home. Even though, the track here will not be as zingy as it was in South Africa, the Proteas have their ammunition stationed at the right place.

Their spinners are reading the pitches well and with new comer Imran Tahir, second-leading wicket-keeper in the tournament, they have found a potent slow-bowling option which can upset the pace with which India’s batsmen love to score. However, his fitness remains a concern and will he take the field or not is yet to be seen.

South African pacers will fill Indian batsmen in with some short pitch stuff as their susceptibility to the chin music is well known and exploited. But more than the bounce it will be sheer pace from SA that might hold the Indians back.

If India’s batting gives terrible nightmares to the opposition skipper, South Africa’s bowling strength is for others to envy. Dale Steyn is topping good speeds and looks fitter and faster than ever, Morkel supports him equally from the other end making it the most lethal opening pair.

For India Virender Sehwag had an amazing run in the tournament and is roaring to go all out against the Proteas. Holding him back won’t be a walk in the park for Steyn and company but a shrewd customer Graeme Smith is, he must have already chalked out a plan to not only keep Sehwag quiet but also to send him back early in the innings.

India’s stint at the world cup has been studded with ups and downs but the only silver lining for them is their batting. If India need to win this game and the tourney later on, they can only do it if their bowlers plug out all the loopholes on field or their batsmen score so heavily that the bowlers can defend.

India have remained unbeaten in the tournament and will look to sustain a clean slate against the Proteas as well. However, the South Africans did lose a close game with England and will make sure they get back to their winning spree.

With two great sides locking horns, one thing is ensured and that is good cricket. Nagpur is all set to host them and the fans are ready to cheer their heroes and going by their current rankings these two teams might well go on to play the title clash, so watch out for a final before the World Cup final.