The West Indies can seal a semifinal place in the ICC World T20 2016 with a win over South Africa. The Proteas, on the other hand, will be desperate for their second win in the tournament, which will keep their hopes of qualifying for the last four of the WT20 alive and kicking.
Darren Sammy's carefree side have won two matches out of two so far, beating England and Sri Lanka, and another win in Nagpur Friday will ensure their place in the semifinals and as good as guarantee them top spot as well, considering their final Group 1 match is against Afghanistan.
While it was the Chris Gayle show in the first match against England, when the left-hander scored a 48-ball 100, West Indies showed their strength in depth in the win over Sri Lanka, with Andre Fletcher stepping up and scoring a nice half-century in the injury-enforced absence of Gayle, who could not open the innings.
Gayle, though, has been declared fit for this match, and with there being absolutely no doubt about him opening the innings, the decision for Sammy and the team management to make is who will partner the big left-hander at the top. Fletcher scored a nice 84 from just 64 balls to steer West Indies to victory over Sri Lanka, but Johnson Charles is Gayle's usual opening partner.
"The good thing is that Gayle is fit," Sammy was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo. "We knew how well Fletcher was batting coming into the tournament. Charles hasn't got a score yet but we know how well he can bat. It's a good headache to have.
"Whether we let Fletcher or Charles open the batting with Chris, you'll know tomorrow. The good thing is Chris is playing really well. I believe Charles will have his turn to score runs at the top of the order as well. We have a fair idea as to who will open the batting."
While West Indies are relieved to see Gayle fit, South Africa have a major selection issue to ponder over after JP Duminy was ruled out of the match with a hamstring problem. Duminy lends so much balance to this South Africa side with his middle-order batting and offspin bowling capabilities that the team makeup goes for a toss every time the veteran is out of the side.
Farhaan Behardien and Rilee Rossouw are the candidates to replace Duminy in the batting order, but with an extra spin option needed on the slow and low tracks of Nagpur – even a changed strip – Aaron Phangiso looks likely to get a game. Dale Steyn sat out the last match against Afghanistan, and with Kyle Abbott and Kagiso Rabada doing really well, there is a good chance the fast bowler will miss out again.
South Africa must pick up a victory to keep semifinal qualification in their own hands, because if they end up losing to West Indies Friday, they could be knocked out of the competition by England, provided Eoin Morgan's men beat Sri Lanka Saturday.
Where to Watch Live
South Africa vs West Indies is scheduled for a 7.30 p.m. IST (4 p.m. SAST, 2 p.m. GMT, 9 a.m. ET) start. Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD1, Star Sports 3 and Star Sports HD3 will provide live TV coverage for viewers in India. Viewers in India can also watch the WT20 match in Nagpur by online live streaming on Starsports online and Hotstar.
Viewers in the Caribbean can watch the match between West Indies and South Africa live on ESPN and ESPN Player. Audience in South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa can watch the World T20 action live on SuperSport, with the online live stream option SuperSport Live Video.
Willow TV will broadcast the game live in the US and Canada, while all the action can also be live streamed on Willow TV Online. Sky Sports 2 will show the match live in the UK , while the live stream option is on Sky Go.
Viewers in the Middle East and North Africa can watch the WT20 action live on OSN Sports Cricket HD. The online live stream option for the match at the Eden Gardens is on OSN Play.