IND vs SA: The mini battles within a massive encounter
India and South Africa will face each other in the top-of-the-table clash at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. These two have been the best teams of the tournament, playing some top-quality cricket throughout. India are unbeaten, while South Africa have lost only one so far in seven matches.
The competition will be as stiff as it gets, with some world-class players taking centre stage. This game will also have several tactical battles brewing throughout. Both teams have particular strengths, and the sides have tools to mitigate them.
The first significant battle will start between India’s powerplay batting and South Africa’s powerplay bowling. India have the second-best average (50.38) and strike rate (95.95) in the first ten overs this World Cup. They hit a boundary every six deliveries, only marginally bettered by Australia (5.52).
Meanwhile, South Africa have taken the most wickets (18) during the first field restriction. Their average is the second-best (21.50), while the Proteas take the fewest balls (23.33) for every wicket. South Africa have taken the second-most deliveries (7.92) before conceding a boundary while also bowling the second-highest % of dot balls (69.76).
So, while India fly high early in the innings, South Africa cut the wings straightaway. India have preserved the wickets even while adopting a gung-ho approach. But the Proteas have made inroads more consistently than any other team.
South Africa have been cautious in the powerplay, but they have upped the ante significantly in middle overs. Their strike rate (101.67) is the highest between overs 11 and 40, while they also hit boundaries more frequently than all other teams. Their balls per boundary ratio (8.68) is the best in middle overs.
India have the best average (25.91) while taking the second-fewest balls (33.55) to scalp a wicket during middle overs. They also bowl the second-most % of dot balls (54.38) while conceding a boundary every 14.19 balls - the most - in this phase.
It has been possible due to India’s skilled spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav, who have majorly operated in middle overs. The Indian spinners have taken 20 wickets at 25.40 runs apiece this World Cup. They have taken the most balls (20.35) for every boundary and bowl the second-highest % of dot balls (56.28).
Meanwhile, South Africa have the second-best average (59.77) and strike rate (100) against the spinners this tournament. They hit boundaries more frequently than any other team, taking only 9.25 balls. Barring Temba Bavuma (69.35), all other Proteas batters have struck over 95, a minimum of 30 balls.
Rassie van der Dussen has had his struggles, but he is a quality spin player. The other batters, like Quinton de Kock, Aiden Markram and Heinrich Klaasen, have been terrific against the slow bowlers. Quinton doesn’t have too many weaknesses vs spin, while Aiden Markram has improved significantly, and Heinrich Klaasen is an absolute beast.
Another spicy battle will be between India’s superior bowlers and South Africa’s fiery batters in slog overs. There has been a significant gap between the quality of both teams and other teams.
South Africa have the best strike rate (176.18) in the final ten; the second-best is New Zealand (136.28). The difference is massive. The Proteas batters have hit 88 boundaries - 40 more than the second-best New Zealand - and hit them on every 4.10 ball, comfortably the quickest.
Meanwhile, India have been miles better than any other team as a bowling unit at the death. They concede the least runs (12.72) before dismissing a batter and giving only 5.41 runs per over. India are the only team to concede less than six runs per over in the death overs.
They also delay a boundary for 11.54 balls, again the most. The Indian bowlers also bowl the highest % of dot balls (52.75). Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj are all elite operators.
Bumrah has an economy rate of 5.13, while Siraj has given 8.47 per over in the slog overs. Mohammed Shami has bowled only three overs but leaked only 16 while dismissing three batters. Shami’s recent improvement in slog overs is well known, as he has more command of his yorkers and bowls his slower ones in the right areas.
These are the vital battles, and the teams winning more of them might register a victory as well. This match will also highlight the areas of concern in both teams, helping the sides to refine them. The encounter will involve plenty of tactics, and it will clear a few things as well.