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South Africa and West Indies set to collide in a virtual quarter-final in Antigua

A place in the semi-final of the 2024 T20 World Cup is on the line as South Africa and West Indies brace themselves for an all-important encounter. England’s emphatic victory against the USA earlier has made this fixture a virtual quarter-final. Whoever emerges victorious, will go to the next round and the other will fly back home. A no-result however, will take South Africa through. 

South Africa are now the only side other than India, unbeaten in the tournament so far. However, their campaign hasn’t been the easiest. The Proteas arrived in this tournament as perhaps the favorites however, this generational bunch of T20 stars has yet to put together a perfect game. Their next task is a tricky one against the West Indies, who on occasions have looked like the Windies of old, but their defeat against England earlier in the super-eight round has left them with no choice but to win this game. 

The Windies came into the super-eights unbeaten in the group stage. Being the co-hosts, West Indies were in contention to progress to the business end of the tournament for many people, and now, they are a win away from making it to the semis and carry on with their campaign in pursuit of a third T20 World Title. Their emphatic victory against the USA gave their net run-rate a heavy boost and another victory by a decent enough margin can take them up to the first position. Precisely, they will need to win by 52 runs if they score 160 batting first. 

It is important to mention that the West Indies defeated South Africa 3-0 in a series leading up to the World Cup, however, most of the frontline players were missing from that South African squad.

West Indies do have some decisions to make regarding their playing XI. Shai Hope’s brilliant 82 from just 39 balls against the USA may mean that Kyle Mayers, who has replaced injured Brandon King in the squad, can stay on the bench. However, this can prove to be a big call as Mayers has been an important force with the bat for the Windies and has the advantage of knowing South African players well, from his time at the SA20.

South Africa opted to go with two spinners and left Baartman out the last time they played in Antigua, and may consider that combination again. However, Tabraiz Shamsi went for plenty in the match against the USA, which can open the door for another other left-arm spinner: Bjorn Fortuin, who is yet to feature in a game so far. No changes are expected in the batting line-up and one of Shamsi or Baartman to play. 

South Africa’s game against USA is an evidence that North Sound is a decent venue for scoring. However, that game was played in daytime and this is a night fixture, so there may be a slight difference. The other two night games played at this venue have seen Australia chase 73 in six overs against Namibia and score 100 inside 12 overs when they beat Bangladesh in a rain-affected game. The weather forecast for this game is not great either as rain is predicted during the day on Sunday, but the probability of it decreases to 17% in the evening.