An inconsistent South Africa will take on a confident West Indies in game number six of the tri-series at Basseterre on Wednesday. While South Africa defeated Australia in convincing fashion in their second game of the tournament, they have tasted defeats on either side of that victory, and in rather disappointing fashion at that. Although a loss will not rule them out of the tournament completely, they will definitely find it difficult to progress to the final in such a scenario as Australia and West Indies will pull away from them. The Windies, on the other hand, will take a lot of confidence into the match, having overcome the Aussies in a tense clash on Monday.
South Africa have suffered because their class batsmen haven't come to the party yet. The experienced batsmen in the team would be the first to admit that they haven't played to potential. The task for the South African batsmen is pretty clear, get big runs on the board, and get it from the tried and tested players. The first name which comes to mind here is obviously skipper AB de Villiers. Rarely has this rollicking batsman gone through a series without a big score. It is no secret that he loves the West Indies attack, and will be keen to take the attack into the opposition camp. Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis are the other big name players, of whom a lot will be expected.
A big good news for South Africa going into the crucial match is the fact that all-rounder Chris Morris is fit for the clash. Morris has been significant to South Africa's rise in recent times, and the Proteas will be looking forward to welcome him back to the mix. Farhaan Behardein has gone a good job in his absence, and that will please the team. In the bowling, there have been some impressive efforts as well. Wayne Parnell has been effective, picking up wickets consistently, although more will be expected of lead bowler Morne Morkel in the absence of Dale Steyn. The spinners may not be getting as much help here as they got in Guyana. Even so Aaron Phangiso and Imran Tahir will have a role to play.
As mentioned earlier, West Indies will go into Wednesday's clash on a high. If defeating Australia doesn't give you one, nothing will give you. Marlon Samuels was the star of the show in Monday's win against the world champions. Samuels hasn't had a fruitful career, in spite of his immense talent, and even this late in the day, he is struggling for consistency. But, on days when he blossoms, like he did on Monday, there are few better sights in world cricket. The hosts will be hoping for more such efforts from him. With the big names likes Chris Gayle, Andre Russell and Dwayne Bravo missing from the batting line-up, there will continue to remain additional responsibility on Samuels.
Another impressive aspect of West Indies triumph over Australia was their all-round success. While Samuels stood out with the bat, the openers Andre Fletcher and Johnson Charles played their part in getting the team off to a confident start. Darren Bravo and later Denesh Randim chipped in with crucial cameos. In the bowling department, skipper Jason Holder led from the front, while Sunil Narine kept things tight while not getting breakthroughs. In the last match between the teams, Narine blew away the Proteas with magical figures of 6 for 27. He will be looking forward to deliver a similar effort. On paper, and on form, West Indies seem to have a slight edge.
--By A Cricket Analyst